stonesfan, drive it and see what you think
i've got a 1.9 jtdm lusso. i've only put 5000 miles on mine since i bought it (used) so can't really comment on reliability etc but i haven't had a single niggle so far. it did, however, have the egr valve replaced under warranty before i picked it up. the 1.9 jtdm diesel has been round long enough now for most niggles to have been resolved at the manufacturing stage so i would've thought it will be no less reliable than any other manufacturer
is good (i'm averaging 38mpg and 80% of my driving is the manchester rush hour into the city centre). longer runs (eg. anglesey and back over christmas) gave me 50 to the gallon without driving like a carvanist
haven't had it serviced yet but main dealers are not the cheapest. dearer than ford, vauxhall etc but probably similar prices to vw or mazda. service interval is 18,000 on models up to (i think) 08 plate, 21,000 on later models
mine's been modified so is noticeably quicker than the standard 150bhp. i had it standard for the first 3 weeks of ownership and it felt just fine. plenty of wallop as you expect from a decent diesel. the engine can be a bit rattly on cold start-up but fine once warmed up. brakes are fine, haven't found myself needing any extra stopping power yet. all models come with abs, traction control and vdc (vehicle dynamic control) - same kind of thing as esp as its called by ze germans
there's no getting away from the fact that it's a big car, and therefore no lightweight. my previous car was a 156 2.0 petrol and felt way lighter and responsive. grip, however is MASSIVE. i've never known a car sink its claws into the road like the 159. my brother in law drives a lexus is220d and he was amazed at the 159. whilst i'm on that, lexus are meant to be extremely refined but the vibration through the gear stick is unacceptable on the 220d. comfort-wise, the 159 is good. mine is a lusso spec so has leather and standard suspension which is reasonably firm but way better controlled than my old 156 which had suspension made from solid granite. i opted for 18" alloys on mine and still it's perfectly comfortable
brilliant. quality is superb, and i love the design. standard stereo is very very good. lusso comes with full leather as standard, although i would prefer sportier shaped seats myself. got cruise control, parking sensors, air-con'd drink cubbyhole, very good air con & ventilation. rear legroom and boot size isn't great for a car of its size though. models from 08-onward (as far as i know) come with bluetooth and ipod socket as standard
but as i say, go drive it and see what you think.