Thanks for your comments guys.....It struck me that it was probably the best engine choice......
It is... if you can live with the "defects" of this engine (lack of some proper sound, and could use some more revs), which btw are more than balanced by the lot of positive things it has, it's a much wonderful unit...
I've been really pleased with the 156 and will be sorry to see it go so wanted something that I wouldn't regret or be disappointed with.
It depends on what you're expecting.. The 159 (well i have the Spider as reference, but i understand the 159 is much similar) behaves wonderful on the road (and on the track too).
Amazing stability and grip, huge braking power with tons of stability... it's a joy to drive on a mountain pass as much as it's a bullet on the autobahn at full speed (for the spider even top down !). It simply does whatever you ask, so effortlessly that is really incredibile.. and also with a decent petrol use (which really i cannot say of the GTA.... but it forgiven anyway
What you do not have to expect it is a sport car in the strict meaning of it... it's some kind of "grown up", Granturismo car... i feel it much more "mature" than the GTA, which is a little bit more "crazy". Two different worlds, much enjoyable both.. i don't know how much the other 156 share with the GTA though..
Anybody heard of any common problems, although I suppose they haven't been around long enough to build an accurate picture.
Engine wise i've never heard of any trouble in these four years (i know about 20 people with a TBI on either a 159, Spider or Brera).. some of them have low mileage, some of them are at more than 80K Km... the only real issue i'm aware of is a problem on power delivery on some units that was not smooth around 80km/h, but is solved by and ECU upgrade since december 2010.
Any other issue i've seen is related to people changing the exhaust system to get more sound of the car and not doing it the proper way... the TBI is very sensitive on the exhaust balance because of the scavenging system used to reduce the turbo-lag, and if you work on it without properly knowing what you're doing it can be a quite a mess..