I think reliability has more to do with model and model year rather than make. Warranty direct publish data based with "scores" (lower = better)on their claims experience and the 145 gets a better than average reliability score (100 being average, I think the 145 gets about 65), and is reasonably close to VW & Ford's comparable models.
The Alfa 156 and GTV fare much less well, way over average, I think the GTV by a factor of 2). But it is also interesting that cars vary per model year, and later models are not always better (e.g. the VW Polo earlier models are more reliable, even within the same version).
My own experience with a 145 QV over 2 years and 20K - only one breakdown, clutch cylinder went, could happen to any car this age (indeed every previous car I have had required new clutch cables at some stage); Other probs - slightly dodgy idle actuator, easily fixed DIY; clock bulb going; wiper judder (typical of the model). And that's it. It is serviced as per schedule, except cam belt changed at 30k intervals.
A mate had a new VW golf last year, has had persistent problems, including sudden cutting out in the fast lane, VW can't fix it (or wont!), its a Lemon, and he's now getting rid of it - of course the VW dealer are not very interested in it as a p-ex. He bought it because of the reliability image - and look where that got him!! Should have got an Alfa
Don't listen to your mates - get a QV, feel smug 'cos your mates have dead boring cars because they are running scared, and care for it well and I reckon you will be delighted.
This forum is an excellent source of info for those niggles and worries!