Could have been the perfect car, but something went terribly wrong
Transaxle has eaten 2nd gear twice, despite replacement (1st time) and rebuilding (2nd time).
Car seems to eat pads and rotors every 15,000 miles.
Car also eats tires. You're lucky to get more than 20,000 miles out of a set of 40,000 mile tires.
After owning a Ford Contour, which was nearly flawless, I decided to trade in for a Focus while it was in for alternator replacement. I had a very good experience from the Contour, as it had been a Ford of Europe product that was adapted for the United States, and assumed that since the focus has the same pedigree, it would be the same experience. I was wrong.
The car is on it's third transmission. Despite being the same manual transaxle as used on the Contour (MTX-75), the focus seems to eat through them quicker than the Contour did. Both of the prior transaxle failures were due to 2nd gear wearing to nothing, and now the car is working on needing a third transmission. I never experienced this issue with the Contour, despite the same clutch/transaxle combo.
The car has excellent handling and braking, unfortunately the brakes wear out too quickly (15,000 miles).
The layout of controls and feel of said controls is great. Everything fits in my hand perfectly, and is in easy reach.
It's larger than it looks, which makes the 3 door hatchback the perfect delivery vehicle.
The seats, while great for short drives, are incredibly uncomfortable if you spend more than 2 hours in them, and the padding degrades quickly.
The car had the potential to be perfect, somehow something went really wrong in development. The brakes wear too quickly, it eats tires, and the seat cushion material degrades too quickly.
It's better for around town driving and short trips, the interior is not suited for any kind of distance driving.
One saving grace is that the car drives very well in snowy, winter climates. Sadly, the heater takes too long to produce any warm air.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 18th January, 2005