6 weeks into 159TI ownership and my experience has been similar.
I came from a 2003 Passat 130TDI (165k miles) - I had been running it for 3 years, it never caused any concerns, I serviced it as per longlife (21k+ intervals) and nothing broke, nothing rattled etc. It is not that I had low expectations, simply, nothing
Within a week of picking up the TI there is a rattle from the front end BLS (great chaps) diagnose it as a driveshaft, but not worth replacing currently (they did that for free, as I say, nice chaps!).
The gearknob came loose, fixed thanks to advice in a thread here and a 10mm spanner.
The red paint appears very vulnerable, picks up chips very easily.
The seats are nice, so long as you have a "Recaro arse" (whatdoyouknow, I have!), whoever thought it would be a good idea to put the heated seat control there?!
The Passat was a 1.9 130BHP, the TI is a 1.9 150BHP - initially it felt like a slower, heavier car. Looking at the T-curve from a thread on here and "learning" to drive it, I accept it is the same kind of performance, but feels heavier.
It looks fantastic. No question. All the more so when lined up in the office Car Park with a series of Black or Silver Audis and BMWs.
Blue and Me? The Parrot I had fitted in the VW was better.
I got between 35mpg (town only driving) and 55mpg (all A roads) - or 60mpg (driving like a Nun).
In the TI I am getting 28mpg Town driving and have yet to do a full tank of A-roads, but suspect 40mpg is likely.
Am I happy with the 159TI? Yes
Does it give anything like the good value a £2500 VW Passat would offer? No
Would I recommend buy one? No
(But only because I like it that they are rare...
My car is a 59 reg and has 67k miles - I will get an Alfa Service before the Warranty runs out and get fixed whatever is required.
I will get the front geometry set to 0' toe-in.
If you are reading this wondering if you should move from your black/silver Audi/VW/BMW/Merc to an Alfa, the answer is "YES!!!!" (so long as you don't live too near me