Well hello there Craine! How lovely to see another member join from the IOM! I adore the place and I'm hoping to move out there with my parents.......you got a gorgeous country there....Glen Maye, Ramsey, Kirk Michael, Port Erin...gosh I can't wait to get back
. I'm coming back over in October hopefully if we can get accomodation (not bringing the caravan this time).
Where abouts do you live?
Back to your question, well as hinted, I come across quite often and bring my 147 over. It's perfect on roads like the mountain roads where its smooth. It's a little stiff on the roads such as the A27 that runs along the coast road near Port Erin/Glen Maye.
Overall though its a very very solid car and rides well. Be aware though there are a number of dodgy bumps over there (Glen Ruschen for a start) that can seriously destroy the sump as its so low and has such a long front overhang.
I'd recommend the JTD 8V personally so long as you can get it significantly cheaper than the 16v that I have. It's a lighter more compact engine with serious low down punch and I'm sure you will love it! It only has 5 gears too which means less to go wrong and you wouldn't really get to use 6th gear over there thats found in the 16v anyway!
Failing that if you don't like the noise of diesels, the 2.0TS would be my recommendation. You can get away with a weedy engine over there of course if you so desire but the 2.0TS is quite torquey low down (90% is delivered from 2k rpm) and the JTD 8V is mega up the hills also. The 1.6 is very weedy in my view, needing serious amounts of right foot action to move the thing off on the flat let alone uphill!
Reliability wise, it's good, very good actually and their suspension parts wear suprisingly well. All I have had on mine (I have had it from new) is the rear trailing arms changed at 30k, the CV gaitors changed this week at 84k and the upper wishbone bush on the nearside also at 84k this week.
Obviously though I don't live there so it doesn't get the same punishment as you would give it, but on the other hand you probably don't drive the kind of mileage I do over on the mainland. Put it this way I don't think it's much more to run than a Ford Focus and in some cases is actually cheaper!
That said running a 147 is not exactly bargain basement motoring....it's a luxury up market, heavy, powerful car afterall.
I'm not sure how the Alfa approved mechanics are over there at Governors Bridge are either?
I hope this helps you!