Re: 1.8ts v 2.0ts
I've had all of them except a 1.6, so I feel qualified to offer an opinion
I had a 146 with the 1.8TS whilst my wife had a 145 Cloverleaf with the 2.0TS (something obviously went wrong there). We changed them for a 156 1.8 (her) and a 2.0 Selespeed (me - right way round this time). I then got my current 2.0 JTS and she got an Espace - oh well... We used to swap cars for a few months at a time to even out the mileage (though I now refuse to do so for obvious reasons) so I've done a lot of miles in them all.
No offence intended to 1.8 owners, who quite regularly claim you wouldn't notice the difference on the road, but frankly that's just not true. The 2.0 has more torque low down, and is noticeably faster throughout the rev range.
I also don't agree the 1.8 revs more easily - they will both hit the limiter with gusto, and you can definitely feel the extra power with the bigger engine. The balancer shaft makes it smoother too. Don't get me wrong, in both the 146 and 156 the 1.8 is a lovely engine and goes really well above 4000rpm, and it was that 146 that gave me the Alfa bug, but given a choice I'd definitely go for the extra 200cc - ain't no substitute for cubes, as the Americans say.
For completeness, the JTS is quicker still, but doesn't sound anywhere near as nice - the best sounding was the 145 Cloverleaf by miles. (And I don't feel I ought to comment on the automatic diesel Espace, although it has surprising comedy value)
Selespeed Technology + Alfa build quality + alfa dealer competence + 2 years and 51K miles + Mental Instability = Another Sportwagon