OK, I was going to start a new thread about this topic that has been covered MANY times - I just spent three hours reading threads
I probably have different concerns to usual - my 2003 156 TS has done 237,000km. Lower arms just replaced before I bought it, upper arms and antirollbar drop links will be replaced (the knocking is quite something). I think the shocks are past their best - though, going by what I've read, they may actually be up to their original (soft) damping! Springs are standard, as far as I can tell. It sits pretty high.
The 156 is very different to my 164, which is 18 years old and has done 240,000km. The 164 has a much more compliant ride, springs seem softer yet the damping is firmer and it sits lower than the 156. It's much harder to push the front of the 164 down in a bounce test, compared to the 156. Yet the back end of the 164 is quite soft - a problem when towing a trailer, but good for safe, predictable handling. My other 164s are the same, so I know the suspension hasn't been modified or upgraded in any way. I have no problem driving a 164 at high speeds. I think the design was a great success, but these cars are getting old now and it's time to move on. I tried a 166 last year and was unimpressed.
The problem I have is not with the handling of the 156 - that's fine for me, steering more precise than the 164, as you would hope considering it is at least ten years newer. I have no problem driving the 156 at high speeds, either. Far more relaxing than my Uno Turbo or my Punto Sporting.
My problem with the 156 is the ride, especially over minor surface problems, which it really seems to make a fuss over (crashes, shakes). It feels as though the springs are too hard for the chassis stiffness (has my car lost stiffness in all those kilometres? Any way to get it back?) and the damping seems wrong - too soft? The car does seem to sit high, but I wouldn't mind that so much IF that makes the ride better. At the moment it rides about like my 50mm-lowered Uno Turbo, which is to say, badly
I seem to be getting the disadvantages of a lowered ride height but without actually HAVING a lowered ride height... It even feels like there is too much unsprung weight!
Everyone says Koni FSD and Eibach Pro springs, but I'm worried that the Eibach Pro springs might turn out to be harder than the original springs, making the problems worse. Is there a way to get springs that are SOFTER than the original springs? I gather that the EB Spares-designed spring (which was softer)/Bilstein kit is no longer available? It all gets quite confusing, particularly when I read that Konis are softer than Bilstein dampers, and then I read that Konis are harder... and I begin to wonder whether it depends what springs they're paired with... and what springs do I need...!
Maybe if I just ask for Smaky's help and say that I want it to drive like a 164... will he know what I mean?