..well i didn't like the 166 sportronic at first either, and thought i'd made a big mistake too.
However, once you figure it out I think it's is a great car with a real depth to it.
First thing to get your head around though is the gearbox.. strictly speaking with only 4 gears it's a mismatch for an engine that develops peak torque at 5000rpm.. there are times when there simply isn't the right gear to put the engine in it's powerband. if you can't live with this you won't enjoy the car and that's an end to it.
however, if you can accept this limitation and learn to use the sportronic to it's full potential it's still great fun. Unless you're pottering around carparks and housing estates the trick is to knock the lever left and leave it in sport-auto mode. If you leave it in D it selects from 1 of 16 preset modes ranging from "old man" to "sport" depending on how you drive.. "old man" is pretty unresponsive, but "sport" keeps the engine on the cam as much as it can, has loads of engine braking and will hang on till the redline if you keep your foot down. Another thing to keep in mind is that the 'box measures how quickly you press the accelerator in order to kick down.
Manual shifting can be useful too, though i don't use it as much as i expected.
The other thing that blunts the fun is suspension wear.. a well worn 166 can still sail through an NCT, but feels like a complete barge compared to one on fresh suspension.
I had a really nice subaru legacy before the 166, but the 166 is head and shoulders above the subaru in almost any respect i can think of, and that's saying something...
horses for courses and all that, but i can't think of too many cars i'd want to swap it for right now.. 'cept maybe a nice 164 or quattroporte.. !