Mine's a 56 plate and I assume it has swirl flaps but not had a problem with them in the 60,000 miles I've had it. It's now on 89,000 miles. Had to replace upper wishbones a couple of times and just replaced the glowplugs and both rear wheel bearings but in nearly 5 years that's about it. I do all the work and servicing myself - I even changed the cambelt and waterpump myself last time. All on my own driveway and I'm no pro mechanic by a long way.
I do a 50 mile commute and clock up around 16,000 miles a year.
I average 47mpg and I don't drive like miss Daisy. Mostly A-roads and a bit of motorway and city driving. On a recent trip to Scotland I did over 600 miles and drove mostly on the M5/M6 with the cruise set to 75mpg. I got 59mpg which I think it pretty good.
People saying "It'll break down, etc. etc." Just say "Why? What problems did you have with your Alfa?" When they say they've never owned one, just say "Aaah, I see . . . " and walk away. 99% of the time it's just jealousy.
Get used to strangers paying your car compliments at petrol stations, supermarkets, etc. It happens more than you would imagine. Sometimes long conversations when you just want to get home!
Buy a good one and you definitely won't regret it.