It seems that people sometimes forget that these cars are budget cars and as such are built to a price. Therefore they should not expect the build quality of a much more expensive car like an Audi A4 for instance.
But this being said, these are great little cars. They have heaps of power, are really cheap to run and fuel efficient, the seats are really comfortable and you don't get tired on long trips like other small cars.
For its size the car has an enormous carrying capacity. I can only speak for my car, but I have found it to be very reliable and well built for the price. My major criticism of these cars is the lack of accessories on the base model cars and the less than precise gear change.
The car handles very well and I have taken my car on dirt, snow, 4WD roads and twice across the Nullabor Plain and it has not let me down. I can also out accelerate other cars with larger engines at the traffic lights.
I think a lot of people that criticize these cars don't treat them very well and hence they break down on them due to mistreatment.