I'm in the same boat mate.
It seems that any main dealer offerings are currently £14.5k upwards and independent offerings occasionally crop up in the £11.5k+ bracket.
Hmm, maybe 159s are holding their values better than first thought?
Just out of interest, what sort of economy are you getting out of the 1.9 you currently have? I say this because I had an Astra SRi with the very similar GM 1.9 150bhp diesel engine and I struggled to get much more than 35mpg out of it. Surely a fettled 2.4 would offer better economy than that and would offer a far nicer driving experience, especially given that price-wise the two seem to be going for the same kind of money?
Is £65 a year extra in road tax over the 1.9 a complete killer?
By the way, from what i have read the TI came out in mid-2007 and I've seen them available from a 2007/57 plate onwards.
I also looked at Saab 9-3s and if I'm honest I was very disappointed with the fit and finish compared to what they used to be like. The cars are a last generation Vectra underneath and the build quality is very reminscent of recent Vauxhalls IMO. Can't argue with the TTiD performance though. Shame that engine never found its way into the 159.
For me too, the 159 TI has far more presence and style than any Saab.
Paid £11,000 for a superb 2.4 Ti in red back in Oct - 210 bhp/55,000miles. What a difference to my original 2006 200bhp 2.4 JTDM Lusso which never got above 35mpg and had horrible turbo lag in 2nd (approach to roundabouts for example). The latest one does 42mpg on my A road 60 mile per day round trip commute, has superb low down pick up, sounds wonderful, sprints like a V6 when required and is generally superb all round. I toyed with the 1.9 but, on balance, so glad I took the plunge for the later version 2.4. As Jerry says, the £65 per year extra over the 1.9 in road tax is a no brainer and the economy very similar now!
Both the 2.4 and 1.9 have been discontinued, with the (excellent) 2.0 JTDM doing the honours, but without the storming, characterful, off beat 5 pot growl of the 2.4. I reckon this engine will soon start to gain cult status a little like the Busso V6s have, so decent late examples will soon start to snapped up. Go take the plunge too - don't think you'll regret it.
Finally, mine had a very decently bonnet and front end respray before I bought it from Allams in Epsom (no doubt previously pepppered with chips) and, 5000 miles later, shock/horror, NO stone chips to speak of...! Obviously, the respray has been done to a better standard or using better materials that what came out of the factory. So I don't even have any doubts about choosing red, with IS most definitely the TI spec colour to go for!