All the criticisms you've heard are true
To slightly correct the other ST review, although the OutRun arcade machine uses the same processor as the Amiga and ST, it also features some additional custom hardware, most notably a routine to automatically scale sprites without requiring processor intervention, which allowed the game to run significantly faster, and made these home versions a little harder to get right.
This version's a lot harder than the Amiga one, which I completed on my first go.
There's still no excuse for this lousy effort though. It moves excruciatingly slowly, making the car much harder to steer, and robbing proceedings of the kind of frantic excitement the arcade game provided. The car often disappears from the screen, and the way driver and passenger sometimes appearing to swap seats is a bizarre and ludicrous bug.
The tracks aren't close enough to the real ones (which is something that should be possible - the Spectrum version is much closer to the arcade game, albeit in monochrome and even less fast), and are hampered by the pot-plants in the middle. The menu system using pull-down menus and mouse-style movement is badly thought-out and awkward. The attempted hip-hop touches of the 'remixed' title music are excruciating - think Vanilla Ice's attempt at borrowing from Under Pressure.
The Bottom Line
The ST, C64 and Spectrum versions of OutRun were all rushed out to meet Christmas 1987, and like all too many of the conversions US Gold released at the time, they weren't up to scratch. Compared to other arcade conversions of the time like Buggy Boy
and Super Hang On
, this is technically inept, unexciting and infuriating. If you want to play it now, MAME is the best way, no doubt about it.