You are right, I actually liked the car models, and the scenery was really nice, I guess the people models were so awful, that I just fixated on it. I mean, the guy I picked out looked emaciated, EAT SOMETHING!!
Oh, and you brought up my #1 annoyance and stated it perfectly. When racing and you hit a bump, that's it. If you dont slow down, your doomed, but yet the AI can do it perfectly. ARRGH! Bad, bad, bad BAD game design.
Like I said, it does have some really good ideas. The long drive missions actually broke up the game nicely I thought. Maybe its b/c I didnt progress all that far, but it seemed like a few more variety of races were needed, too.