Re: 156 purchasing help
The relative merits according to me are as follows,
The V6 is a fantastic sound and can be pootled along on lower revs for a more relaxed drive. Driven over long distances, the V6 does good fuel consumption into the low 30s with ease. Around town and when giving it some it drops to the low twenties in reality. V6 came with 6 speed manual or 4 speed Q system automatic which is a full auto with a gearstick to override this if wished and that gearbox is rubbish! Avoid one.
2.0 TS is quick and lighter but still nose heavy. Power is higher up the rev range so it has to be thrshed for truely comparable performance. Also, that sort of thrashing with questionable oil consumption on many leads to spun main bearings and the high rev range tends to result in broken cam belts! Fel consumption tends to be in the early thrities unless the AC is on, which hits it a fair bit. The 2.0TS comes with 5 speed manual gearbox or Selespeed (Which is just a normal 5 speed manual with a lower first gear and electro-hydraulic actuator to move the gear selector mechanisms and clutch for you). The selespeed is nice but does take some performance from the engine to run, so in real terms is slower point to point than an identical manual. Another bonus is the Selespeed is classed as an auto so people with only an auto driving license can drive one.
All in, a 9000 Saab with HOT engine is far faster point to point. And a well set up 900 turbo is better in both reliability and mileage tolerance, but both are worse for servicing costs, insurance and visual appeal.
If I had to chose, as I've had both 2.5 and 2.0 Alfas, I'd go for the 2.5 with manual gearbox for combination of low down relaxed power, combined with healthy top end power and a fantastic noise. Also the 6 speed gearbox allows the engine to stay up in its powerband when you are really chasing time across country.