Is it me, or is the 1st gear of the TBi totally gutless!? I'm not into always ramming her past 4k rpm every single time I start off, but I've found that the revs to about 3.5k go so quickly while the car is hardly fast. By the time I'm shifting to 2nd, cars with presumably autoboxes are already all over my rear, sometimes to the point of tailgating me. Its only on 2nd where I find the pulling power of the TBi awakening. Am I driving it wrong?
Not just you, I felt the same way. In fact I'd say that 1st and 2nd were gears to get through ass fast as possible before anythign really started happening.
I bought a second-hand tuning box and it has totally changed the car. Not sure how that has happened but first and second now both pull and it feels like I can stay in gear longer. Illogical, but that is the way it feels, maybe the power curve is more linear, but I've got to admit I'm talking from where the sun doesn't shine here, so... The car pulls away much more willingly and usefully. It now goes like it looks and has hit the sweet spot between having speed, acceleration and diveability for me. A proper fast Alfa.
Would I recommend one? I would recommend mine.
People complain about the mpg and it is pretty dismal. However, if you have your heart set on an Alfa I'd say the mpg doesn't appear to be a million miles away from that of the dervs. I guess it depends on the number of miles you do and will the cost differential of diesel v petrol be offset by superior(ish) mpg. In general though the mpg is pretty bad for a modern car.
People report that the handling is better than the diesel models due to the lighter engine up front, I can't really comment on that as I only test drove a 2.4d and 2.0d briefly. But I would say the handling is more than acceptable.