I confess to having a shock 3 years ago when I disposed of the 159. The first car I drove was a "humble" Mondeo Zetec and I was stunned by how such a large car on bog-standard tyres and suspension could turn-in so sharply and make my Alfa feel like a truck. It was a revelation.
Really? No, REALLY?
I'm not pretending that such cars offer the same visual delights as an Alfa Romeo but in terms of economy, practicality and driving experience I'm afraid even the Mondeo showed a clean pair of heels to the 159.
Where can I find one of these amazing Mondeos, I wonder. The one I drove was like a Camry, or a Sonata.
The new Mazda 6 is usually seen as the new class leader, with probably the swoopy Hyundai i40 not far behind. From the reviews I've read the Mazda is sprightly to drive, very roomy, economical - and although it took me a while to get used to the front end, it's not a bad looker. You just need some dark glasses so you don't compare the interior with the Alfa.
So, with the Mazda at any age costing about half what the Alfa 159 costs (e.g. a 2009 Mazda 6 can be picked up for under 10 grand here, and there are hundreds to choose from vs. a handful of 159s), I can see that it is an economical choice - but again, would you want to be driving something that looks and feels like a rental car?
I suppose carrying this to extremes leads to the purchase of a couple of brand-new Cherys (J1 and J2) but I really don't think they are very nice to drive. At all!
Instead, my suggestion would be a nice Mercedes S-class, like an S320, which would be about 12 years old for Alfa Romeo 159 money. That seems like a generous step up, and the average person will see it as newer/more expensive than the 159 - good value, therefore. Shame about the running costs.