"We test drove a 2.5 (i think) v6 156 with the q system gearbox a short while back, the car was so nice, black with red leather interior. The trouble was it wouldn't start on the owners drive which was a slight slope, we pushed the car to the flat and it started ok, we then drove about a half a mile from the guys house and the car lost all power and was smoking quite heavily from the exhaust. The owner apperared shocked as it "has never happened before". Shame, because we ended up buying a barge of a mercedes instead, but it fuelled my hunger for a 156 though this time a 2.0 selespeed. Is the v6 usually reliable?
Oh now you are in my comfort zone... The Q-System!
It sounds like he had a MAF failure and very little fuel in it amongst other issues but thats a different story......
As regards to the V6 mated with the Q-system.... Well it wasn't an "ideal" combination.
The V6 is and probably will be the strongest engine Alfa made albeit keeping the timing belt, water pump and the relative tensioners changed earlier than recommended and you won't go wrong.
Again... The Q-system is bullet proof as long as the fluids are changed and topped up on a regular basis... Made by Aisin and not ZF it is a far more stronger and more refined auto/semi box. It is found in big Toyota's, Lexus, Saab and Citroen's so if anything in reliability factors goes, it won't go wrong.
As far as the "ideal" side goes, it only has 4 forward ratio's and as a result they are a little tall for the torque curve of the V6. It tends to bog down on initial acceleration from the mark....
But be under no illusion, it isn't a slouch! It's not like any other auto box I have ever driven, the engine makes a wonderful growl and put it into sport mode or even semi/ H box mode pays dividends!
Once the old girl picks up her skirt, the tall gearing pays dividends and you will find that in comparison to the 6 speed manual, you gain what you lost at first.
As they flap at getting the next gear to keep going, you don't and breeze past at illegal speeds (which come along rather disturbingly quickly) 105mph+ in 3rd!
As far as economy goes, well I have a "lead foot" as I simply cant resist but saying that my average mpg is 22mpg on the trip to work and about 29mpg on a long run so not really any different from the manual... Driven like a church mouse won't make much difference....
And there is the "party trick" !!! The Aston Martin Vanquish is the only other car that I know of that can accelerate from 0 to 140+ in 4th without burning out the clutch or stalling.... So can The Q-system... Beat that
Would I recommend owning one? You are damn right I would