Have you bought one yet Chris?
Had mine 2 months. It's the 1.9 Jtd, in Gabbiano Blue, the best colour rtc. etc...zzzzz, well everybody else says it about theirs! ;-)
Mine is a 55 plate, but registered 1st Jan 06. Done 49000 miles when I bought it, it was used 2-3 times a week by my boss as her 3rd car, so mainly a 25 mile round trip each time to work. Mine was serviced when it should have been and in good nick, cleaned every other week by a car cleaner guy and never smoked in.
No problems so far.. i used it every day for work on a round trip of 22 miles, mainly at a constant 60mph on a dual carriageway. I get 44 -45 mpg, and yes, suspension is standard, no mods on the car at all. Suspension is stiff and UK roads are sh*t, especially back roads and town centres, so you will feel it. (you will also start paying much more attention to roads and potholes..it sharpens the eyesight!).
As someone else said, its bigger inside than you think once you drop rear seats. I can easily fit me, the gf and two greyhounds. The dogs can both lay stretched out, so good space. The 1.9 diesel is a strong engine, its why i went from a 2.0 petrol turbo volvo to diesel. Not the quickest, but at 9 secs for 0-60, not too shabby either.
Its a great cruising car AND on a spin in the country lanes at night its heaven, point and go in to a smooth bend without thrashing it and you will be grinning.
Running costs? well, fuel is good but yes, keep an eye on the oil level. The original suspension was revolutionary but is prone to failing eventually. However, if you buy an Audi then the suspension is not great (A4 etc.) and the BMW 2.0 diesel engine in a 3-series is legendary amongst mechanics for paying for their summer holidays ;-) so, all models have their probs.
Go for it, theres no looking back. I'm on my 2nd Alfa, after my 156 a few years ago. Pics of both are in my gallery.
You will also notice how much better the gabbiano blue really is ;-)