Despite the problem areas, I am very happy indeed with the Ford Focus.
I'm VERY fussy about rattles (I'm a Sound Engineer), and once the rear hatch rattle was fixed, I've not had a single buzz or rattle from any part of the car at any speed, or indeed at any volume level of the CD. That isn't true of any other car I've been in. This car seems rock solid.
Car handling going around bends (I live in the Lake District) is absolutely stunning. I've pushed the car to it's limits, and those limits are way in excess of normal driving behavior. It handles fine even with a 12-foot Kayak strapped to the roof.
The cabin is very quiet, and the Diesel engine very smooth, powerful and refined. I hate driving cars other than my Focus now - they seem so brash and uncontrolled.
The overall ride comfort is terrific - especially on long Motorway journeys. With the windows open and a fully-loaded CD player, I've driven all the way to London (300 miles) without a break, and gotten out of the car perfectly refreshed for a night out on the town.
I think the dashboard is a design classic, and of a much higher standard than other cars in this class. The dash oozes quality compared to the "Yogurt carton" build of other manufacturers.
Fuel economy is good. I get 44mpg consistently. Strangely, this is absolutely consistent, regardless of whether I am doing long journeys or short ones.
You do get a LOT of brake dust on the wheels.
I find that the windscreen mists up unless I leave the air conditioning on constantly - but then this is the wettest place in England so maybe the air is unusually moist. Don't know how I'd cope if I didn't have the air conditioning.
The "A" pillars however, seem to be positioned so as to cause blind spots obstructing dangerous hazards (such as pedestrians crossing at junctions, and cars pulling out from other side roads). I don't know why this feels worse than other cars, but it does. They seem to badly block the view when cornering certain types of bends.
The rear view mirror seems positioned unnecessarily low on the windscreen - again, this causes a very nasty blind spot, smack bang in the middle of your field of vision. Probably less of a problem if you are not unusually tall, like I am.
Overall though, compared to all of the potential problems one can have with a new car, I have to say that I am blown away by the Focus. I think it's great, and with retrospect I wouldn't have chosen any other car, or indeed any other Focus variation than the one I've got.