2.6 is a more comfortable car to drive with a silky smooth 6-cyl.
the 16v is, in essence, race-bred and it shows. the ride is a bit stiffer and the 4 cylinder, twin-cam, solid lifter engine is very buzzy.
it all comes down to what your preference is. the 16v is an edgier car in all respects but a blast to drive.
with a few judicious suspension and performance mods, the 2.6 could probably give the 16v quite a run for its money.
good ones 16vs DO exist. you just have to be patient in your search. check out www.190revolution.net
for more W201 specific info.