ah, yes indeed, the 156, the first of I'm sure many mistakes i shall make on my path to Alfa ownership.
I see, Do we know yet if the latest flight i.e. Mito and Guiletta are subject to the same family traditions?
well...The Guiletta and 159 generation cars are of a higher build quality undoubtedly, but there is some debate as to whether they have managed to keep the best characteristics of the Alfa DNA.
in my opinion the 156 derived cars are much more a ''drivers car'' than the 159 or Guilietta despite being front wheel drive, the mechanical diff available in the 147/156 and GT keep the torque nicely under control and eliminates all under steer associated with FWD cars.
a few major changes were made when Alfa built the 159, firstly the weight went up considerably, this is a symptom of the build ethos of these cars,they are very solid and well bolted together but as a result the 150BHP available from the 1.9 JTDm will feel quite pedestrian. they are however great m-way cruisers are quieter in the cabin and things like door handles and trim are of a higher standard.
The diffs are electronic utilizing independent braking to keep things civilized but can feel a bit intrusive when making progress in a spirited fashion. funny enough was just looking at a 159 TI in the car park when getting my car washed. it is gorgeous to look at, if my driving style were more sedate I would have one in a heartbeat!
interiors are better than the 147 and GT IMO but the face lift 156 is lovely and would give you both driveabilty and 159ish looks. the 156 SW TI is a cracking car for a family man with a bit of style.
I recently drove about 10 Guilietta's on the look out for my wife's new car and although the build quality is good and the interior a very nice place to be I wasn't entirely convinced. a really nice car but in all but the 240 BHP QV I would have to hang up my driving gloves. that said I would have one over an Audi TT or family hatch from any other marque as it does feel a bit special in comparison.
for my money a well looked after late 156 in TI spec would be a good choice,if you like a ''hoon'' every now and then otherwise a 159TI is a gorgeous car and will give you a lot less trouble!
hope this helps