OK - Lets look at this subjectively after 5000 miles in my new 156:
build - better than I expected, and much improved over my last two Alfas, but not as good as a German car
performance - well chuffed. 305NM (225lb/ft) of torque more than enough for front wheel drive. Surprises a lot of more overtly sporty cars in the mid range!
ride - crash, bang, wallop - not the comfiest, but I did go for Veloce with 17" wheels...
handling - can't fault it. Beautiful turn in, minimal body roll, changes direction at the drop of a hat
comfort - sports seats are very comfy. Adjustable steering column good too. Remote radio controls handy
braking - not great for a fast heavy car, but neither were my last Alfas
gearbox - sweet as a nut for a front wheel drive
practicality - Fine for me. Guess what? I looked inside one before I bought it, so I knew just how big it was!
steering - good as ever. Quick rack, good feel, nicely weighted. Shocking turning circle!
reliability - touch wood, OK so far....
I think what happens is that if people are pi$$ed off with one aspect - say the dealer, they then mark every aspect down!
Maybe when you buy an Alfa, you should be asked to take a basic common sense test and answer three questions on Alfa's heritage before you can buy....