With both cars in the garage I have a choice of a Astra Hire Car we have whilst the beemers is in the bodyshop or a 156 on loan from Autolusso.
156 1.6 Tspark
Power (bhp/rpm) 120@6200 bhp/rpm
Power (bhp) 120 bhp
Torque 108@4200 lb/ft
Maximum Speed (mph) 124 mph
Acceleration (0 - 62 mph) 10.5 seconds
Astra 1.6 16v (previous generation)
So bland the internet tells me nothing about it other than I think it has 115bhp unless its an ecotec which has 100bhp
Well, I drove from Autolusso to home in the 156, it's had a long life and with a little over 125K on the clock I was surprised to find that nearly everything on it worked as originally intended. Its obviously a very different care to my GTA but I still enjoyed driving it, seats were confortable despite lacking lumbar support and the ride and handling was pretty good, confortable yet still sporty enough to cling to corners well and the engine note sounded pretty good too. On the motorway it was fine in the fast lane despite it's welterweight engine and I got home with no issues other than having to cope with a slight smell which may have been a stain on the seat from a previous loanee (ewwww).
I went to town in the Astra today and as a direct comparison I found it to be wallowy yet underdamped which gave you the impression that they were trying to give a sporty setup but when you try to be sporty it rolls around and makes you wish you hadn't, the engine is pretty gutless in whatever gear you go for and the cabin also has a strange chemical smell to it which I recognise from a previous Astra hire car we had.
In conclusion the Astra is a machine for getting you from A to B, its for people who don't actually give a rats *** about driving, they just don't want to walk or use public transport either so they if they have to have a car, well it might as well be a cheap one with all the soul of a dead stick.
In comparison the old Alfa still feels very much like it's entirely setup for someone who enjoys driving, yes it may not be the fastest thing out there but it still handles well and still has the capability to enthrall despite it's age and mileage, given the choice if I had 10K to spend on a car and I wasn't that bothered about ultimate performance I'd be happy to go with an older 156 with a small engine and pocket the difference or spend it on loose women and booze.
Thanks go to Autolusso for lending me their customer shed and Europcar for having no imagination whatsoever.