Good morning Clive,
Sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin
My previous 156 Sportwagon 2.4 JTD, as I said, covered 75k in my hands before I chopped it in a bought my current 2.4 20V saloon.
Ok, first thing's first. You will not find an AR 156SW with the same spec as your BMW, nor the same performance as your 540!!(unless you get the GTA version - 3.2V6 24V.....!)
Space: Do not expect a true estate. Space is at a premium still. The rear wheel arches protrude into the boot so you will never get a large flat area in which to place big loads. It is however larger and MORE practical than your average saloon car, albeit not as big as your 5 series.
Basically, you will not get a wardrobe in there, but you will get your dog. (maybe not a great dane tho!!!
Also, if youre tall (like me!) you'll have the drivers seat quite far back. In this position, I found the rear seats would never push flat, meaning that the load area in the boot/rear seat area was never totally flat. I remember doing the Ikea run a few times with my drivers seat pushed uncomforatbly forwards.
Ok, so its not the most practical of cars (compared to an A4 or Mondeo estate or 3 series Touring etc). But what you will get it is a great involving drive.
You will notice in big drop in performance when changing from the 540 theres no doubting that, but you'll make up for that in low down torque and everyday drivability.
The 2.4JTD (140 or 150bhp variants) pulls very hard from 1750rpm and you dont need to rev the balls off it to get the best out of the engine.
It will sit happily at 90mph (and well, well over!) all day long on the motorway and once off it you'll have a sharp turn-in and bags of front end grip, with progessive understeer if you push on hard.
Yes, as Rick says, the tyres will take a lot of power/torque (195 x 16's if I remember correctly
) I used to replace my fronts every 20-22k-ish and I drive quite hard.
The divider bar between the boot and the rear seats works well and can be unclipped and re-attached quite easily. There's a removable net between that works well and Im sure your dog will have enough room and also be stowed safely in there!
Other than above, I had no major mechanical problems to report. I kept the oil in good check (the JTD's take very little oil - maybe a top-up every 9-10k only!)
The rear trailing arms were replaced under warranty.
The undertray was replaced (over-enthusiastic driving on my part that one!
The paint stayed a beautiful deep red (partly down to elbow grease).
I had no rust on the bodywork.
The gear box was fine and direct (a long throw on it tho)
The only other major thing event happened when I was rear ended by a Tuffnells lorry on the M1 and did some medium damage to the car (4 weeks off the road- parts took a long time to arrive)
I drive between 20-25k per annum and I honestly dont see me driving anything else on the road. My newer 175bhp 20V is a real joy to drive. Pulls like a train in any gear (0-60 in 8.3 secs and 140mph!) and still gives me 40-ish mpg average.
Well, Rick's given you an accurate low down on the spec - just dont expect teletext on a tv!!!
Its a gorgeous car, great to drive, economical, stylish and different. There are some great deals out there at the mo. Just make sure you give it a good looking at, check the cam belt change (if its a high miler), see its been stamped in the book (i'm sure you know anyway!) and make sure there's not too much black smoke. Test ALL the electrics and that means everything!
Here are a couple anyway:
2002 52 Reg ALFA ROMEO 156 2.4 JTD Veloce 2 Sportwagon with leather 46,000 miles. Registered in November 2002 (52 plate), Metallic Sterling silver with red momo leather, revised dash, side skirts, Dual zone climate controlled air conditioning, 16 inch sport alloys, Bose
2002 52 Reg Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon 2387 cc Lusso, 5 Doors, Manual, ESTATE, Diesel, 55,155 miles, Blue, CD Player, ABS Brakes, Air Conditioning, Alloy Wheels, Central Locking, Leather Upholstery, Alarm, Driver's Airbag, Multiple Airbags, Power Steering,
Happy hunting and hope to see you here soon!