while my direct family has only had 1 german car - my brothers vw bora(jetta), other relatives and friends have mercs, audis, bmws etc. nearly everyone has had more trouble than me.
my 2002 156 isn't perfect(owned 5/6yrs), but its not had as much grief as my brothers 2002 vw... or my uncles 03 merc, or his son in laws 330... I'm not going to go on, a girl 3 doors from me has a 318c? the coupe 3series, its broken down at least 3 times now...!
alfas have a bad rep based on the past sure, Its not as bad these days but people must remember to maintain their motors!
*last one - to prove that people dont know - a friend drove her auidi tt with NO OIL in it for 2 weeks. she found the warning alarm and beeps very annoying, and ignored my advice. the car survived, a whole 3 years after that which I don think is good german engineering!