I really really wanted to like this game, but the things that would've made it fun have been totally ruined. Learning the map and the positions where civilian vehicles appear as obstacles has a much greater impact on your performance than learning to drive the vehicles. And even if you do learn the maps, the game cheats. In addition to the classic AI cheating, which makes AI drive faster and more intelligently if you're in the first place, and slower and worse if you're in last place, the game amplifies your penalties depending on your position in race. Crash in the first place, and your vehicle is often gonna flip twenty times around, wasting 10-20 seconds of time at worst, while such effects never happen if you're in the last place (at least not during my 30-40 hours with the game). Difficulty isn't flexible at all. Buy a better car for a tournament you lost last time, the AI drivers will have better cars too. Upgrading the vehicle doesn't improve your results in the end. I really got sick of these fake and artificial difficulty factors.
So, how about going online then? Sure, against other players with nothing but the best tuned up to the max. You gotta finish half the offline game just to get a vehicle good enough to compete. That, plus there wasn't any civilian/npc cars online. It's purely a matter or knowing the map and about how fast your vehicle is.
What I found great in the game were the visuals and city map itself. It's fun to just drive around exploring every now and then. The weather effects look great (loved driving in rain, despite the added difficulty), it's fun to play hide'n seek with the cops, listening to their radio chatter, etc. Music was ok, though required turning off third of the tracks to be enjoyable. (Sorry, ain't a fan of rap and such).
Basically everything about the game is good enough, except the racing itself. Instead of making the game easier for the player if they get stuck, the little progress you make is hindered with even worse penalties than before. Not even halfway to the game and most races require you to not mess up a single time. It's just simply not fun, and definitely not challenging the way a challenge should be presented.
I would've liked the game better if the AI raced with a fixed pace, so that if you learn to drive faster than how they perform, you can go past them just as much as your performance is better, without the AI closing that gap instantly with ridiculously maximized performance. I know I'm not the best with racing games, but I've played my fair share. I'm just wondering how horrible experience this is for someone new to racing games. Definitely NOT recommended for beginners!
To summarize: Basically, driving is fun, racing is not. Not a totally horrible purchase at under 25€ though, I suppose.