Tried a 1.9 ti on Saturday, much more impressed than I expected.
It's not a racing car by any means, but it gets along fine. The only time I felt it could do with a bit more go was on the Edinburgh city bypass, trying to nip into gaps in the traffic - I daresay that with more experience of where the power is you could get round that.
sound a lot more diesel-y than the 2.4, though. Not atrocious by any means, but I was much more aware of it than with the bigger engine at tickover. Quiet enough on the move, although again the 2.4 makes a nicer noise.
The one I drove also had a sort of a 'tick' that varied with revs - same sort of sound as a leaf in the heater fan, or a bit of plastic in the spokes of your bike. I'm assuming that's a one-off, not a characteristic of the 1.9?
Also tried a Volvo V50 2.0d and a C70 2.4d - the C70 was the only car they had available with the 2.4 engine. The 2.4 is a quieter, more refined engine than the Alfa 1.9, much like the Alfa 2.4 although with a bit less power, and the 2.0 Volvo diesel was a useful reminder of how bad diesel engines can be.
So out of the four of them, I'd rate the Alfa 2.4 as my favourite, then the Volvo 2.4, then the Alfa 1.9 and finally (by a big margin) the Volvo 2.0.
Can't justify the extra cost (purchase, fuel, insurance, road tax) for the Alfa 2.4 - I have to keep reminding myself that this is just meant to be for running about...
David at Piccadilly and Chris at Western have both come up with pretty good figures for a 1.9 Lusso, but they're still over £100 a month more than the best deal I've found for a V50 D5 R-Design.
I definitely want the Alfa - it's a nicer car to look at than the Volvo and it's a better drive. I just need to try and make the figures add up, and at the moment they don't.