This car took some time to get used to. My previous car, a 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLX 4motion wagon, was a wonderful car, but I needed something smaller, cheaper and more efficient. I was leaning toward a one-year old Golf TDI when I saw this nice looking Focus 5 door hatchback on the lot.
Curiosity killed the cat (but for awhile I was suspect) and I drove the Focus. This car feels very European - solid, stable and agile. It is comfortable much the same way European cars are - good mixed feeling of car, road, seat. You feel the bumps, but aren't typically tossed around by them.
The more I drive this car, the more confident I become with its handling capabilities. For a stout looking, small economy car - this thing handles incredibly. I'm not, as a general rule, fond of Pirelli tires because I'm nervous of the way they handle inclement weather, but they work on this car in dry, driving conditions. You can really throw this little guy around!
The 136hp engine is peppy, at least mated to the 5spd gearbox as mine is. Many people seem to "wishing" for more power, but, frankly, I think this car moves quite well and the manual allows me to keep the car in its optimal power band for passing, climbing, etc.
Braking is sure-footed and confident - although I would have preferred to see 4 wheel discs instead of the old disc/drum set-up.
The manual tranny shifts nicely, although I found the clutch a little light and sensitive at first.
The car is nicely equipped with most power options and mine has a Canadian winter package which adds heated seats and mirrors - a nice touch on an economy car. I hate the little steering wheel stalk which operates the stereo - it is already very close at hand and this just seems to be a little overkill.
I love the seats - they don't feel at all like the seats in most North American cars. They are supportive and firm and chair-like. The non-power adjustments are adequate and, coupled with the tilt/telescoping steering wheel, it is easy to find a good driving position. The materials used on the interior feel of comparable quality to those of my Passat.
I seem to averaging 35 mpg through careful, speed limit observing driving. I keep the car in top-notch repair and routinely check tire pressure, oil levels, coolant, air filters, etc. My driving mix is about 60/40 highway/city so I'm yielding above-acceptable mileage, but I would hope that a little more highway driving would push the mileage numbers up closer to 40 mpg. In short, I couldn't be happier with the extremely frugal fuel consumption of my car.
Most of all, after almost a year of ownership, this car has proven to be reliable and trustworthy. Typically, I try to keep my cars for about 10 years (with the exception of the Passat) and I hopeful this car will prove durable enough to stand that test. I will add that, as a rule, I would never buy a used car because I don't trust other drivers normally (most people simply do not take proper care of their vehicles) but I took a chance and so far, so good.