I think the 159 is a head-over-heart Alfa:
When I bought my Alfa last year (I will say at this point that it's my first, but definitely not last one!) I couldn't decide between a 156 and 159; the you-only-live-once side of me favoured the 156 with its better reputation as a driver's car, but they seem to need more maintainence (suspension and cambelts etc.) which is something that I'm happy to do myself, but struggle with time, facilities and, occasionally, motivation. The 159's reputation suggested it is less fragile but not as much fun, so the lazy time-strapped practical side of me was leaning that way. I will also point out that it was the you-only-live once side that wanted an Alfa in the first place!
When the time came to commit to buying something there was an ideal-for-me spec 156 (1.8 TS, original shape, revised interior) at a dealer and a 159 2.2 JTS private sale with 2 other Alfas (a Giulia and a GTV, fact fans) on the seller's drive. I phoned the dealer first, but they could tell me nothing about the service history - crucially the cambelt, I'd have to drive several hundred miles to get home with it which would have been excruciating in a belt of unknown age. So Practical Me won the battle and I went for the 159.
I absolutely love it to bits and do not regret buying it at all, it is easily one of my favourite drives ever (previous highlights are Peugeot 405 & 406, Mercedes A160-the ones that fell over, handled like a go-cart and seriously good fun! and 300SL, which I still have) and I am genuinely disappointed when I hear of someone not enjoying their 159, but do wonder if I'd feel the same if I'd come to it after a 156 instead of the more ordinary fare I've been used with....
Spot on....we have had three 156s...1.6,1.8 and 2.0 and loved them all even the slightly underpowered 1.6....just gave it more revs.
Fun cars to drive.
I desperately want to love the 159...perhaps it was just an impulse buy that we didn't need....Anne had the 156 and she wanted to "upgrade"...i was more than happy to get her "downgraded" 156.
My wife be happy driving virtually anything...but like me she fell in love with Alfa Romeo...well, the 156s.
I think the era of 147s,GTs and 156s are our thing and probably expected the next set of Alfas to be the same.
I wish we had just kept the SAAB 9-3 1.8t and let Anne drive that....it was a powerful wee car....and I would get one again.
But hey ho....we live and learn.
I shall persevere with the 159 Sherman tank until it blows up.
Unless that is another 156 appears on the scene