Even Harald Wester has come out and said they made a mistake with the 159, its platform didn't suit the car Alfa were trying to make it to be. Never before have Alfa used these oversize, voided rubber bushes on the rear of a front lower wishbone, in a double wishbone setup. Even on the old 166, which was of a similar size & weight to the 159 and was much praised for its great handling and smooth, quiet ride, that had conventional small solid rubber bushes both front & rear on the lower wishbone, and when new they move very very little at all. I don't really want to put Alfa down, as I am a big a fan of the marque as anyone, but they are not perfect and do make mistakes in the design of some of their components. I like to think its down to things like the partnership with GM, where they designed a platform that could be used across a number of different models.
The 159 lower wishbone with its super-size rear bush in a large alloy casting looks just like one off a Vectra C or Insignia. This type of suspension isn't typically what Alfa have ever used in the past on their double wishbone suspension systems and they have moved away from it with the Giulietta (which is single wishbone). It remains to be seen what the Giulia will have but I would be surprised if it has these voided bushes, its something I see mostly on German cars. To me it seems Alfa were lumbered with this suspension arm design as well as the rest of the bits on the platform that are distinctly GM/Opel.
You are right in what you say about the 166 and in truth the 164 I believe. Add to that the 156, the 147, 916 GTV and Spider and the Giulietta. The motive for this was - they do all substantially come from the same Fiat parts bin. The Stilo almost broke Fiat. But Fiat are a Mass Production Company in the lowest economy class you can get. Anyone who remembers British Leyland will tell you, a MGB could be maintained with parts from almost every other model in BL's catalogue. And we all know what happened to them.
But it is the economic reality a company like Fiat had to come to terms with. All those above mentioned Alfa's have suspension systems which are heavily reliant upon the front shock absorber/strut, as an integral part of the overall suspension strength. And it is a serious encumbrance. This method does seriously compromise the suspension and to get the best out of a bad idea, spring, shock absorbers and bushes had to be fundamentally different, particularly as the strut/shock absorber are load bearing. I had nothing but trouble with my 156, in-spite of loving it. She was a fickle mistress. But the benefits are substantially, Cheapness.
Fiat had a seed change when acquiring Maserati although in the early years, they too almost broke Ferrari. They realised, there is no virtue in owning Badges, something that VAG do. If the intrinsic value of the marque was to be restored to it's former illustrious position, it had to be recognised as a manufacturer in it's own right. Ok, they had a leg up from Ferrari, but it worked. Now Alfa have Maserati and in turn, they helped with the 8C. This is particularly important if the parent company were to be in financial difficulties as, in this instance, Maserati could be sold for a considerably greater sum than hitherto. Just think of Aston Martin as an example. They were worth more than Jag and that's why Aston had to go, before Jag, where-upon the capital was invested in restoring Jag's reputation. This is all based on the memory of a 68 year old but I believe this is substantially correct. The Giulietta is not wholly an Alfa Romeo. The last one I believe was the 75, or possibly the 155? every car to date, with the exception of the 159 is a Fiat/Alfa.
The 159 is an Alfa, particularly the 1750TBI. Although, the work that Alfa did on the Q4 really does entitle it to be remembered as one. Go back to the Alfetta GTV, Alfetta and 75 with their Transaxle and D'-Dion suspension at the back and torsion bars at the front, with double wishbone. and just reflect what that Alfetta GTV won. It was Blisteringly good. No, magnificent. Those Torsion Bars had Massive bushes.
So there is an Auto-motive God. And Alfa were Blessed with a superb chassis; a chassis that could them give them a way back to the Alfetta GTV6. The 159 gave Alfa engineers the opportunity to go back to the drawing board, which hitherto had been taken away from them when bought by fiat; given really by the Italian Government in preference to selling it to Ford. They were also Blessed with a German, who understood Fiat's Brief. "Restore Alfa's reputation to make great cars in their own right". It's going to take a long time, but the new Giulia is a start and sorry it has High Double Wishbones at the front and a quadrilateral suspension layout. Much of the research for the new car is based upon 159 Laboratory Rat.
Back to the point. By the very nature of the 159 chassis and suspension, it is impossible to make comparisons with the hitherto mentioned Fiat/Alfa suspension systems. They are chalk an cheese. Anyone can take a Q4, in standard guise round a track faster than any of those other models in standard guise. And if that were not the case, then Alfa really should give up.
Ultimately Alfa will be sold, when the intrinsic value of the Marque is restored, just like Aston Martin. But that won't be for a while yet. So enjoy them while you can. The vast majority of us are not going to be able to afford them when that happens.