Even 5 years on, when I looked for a small car to buy the Focus stood out. The best aspects are a unique style inside and out, a user friendly interior and seating position, the best handling of any non-sport compact but a comfortable suspension worthy of a larger car. Don't worry, I say this having test driven the Corolla, Civic and Golf. On the downside, the fuel economy is not as good as it should be for a small car, the reliability is acceptable, but not bullet-proof and there are a few annoyances that are easily overshadowed by the good points
Stability control in an inexpensive car! If you search hard, you can also find Focus with 4 wheel disc brakes, ABS and traction control. Though, on any Focus the handling would be my favorite feature.
The center armrest is uncomfortable in manual transmission cars, in the up or down position. Unfortunately, other than removing it altogether, there is no solution for this. Another trouble spot is the rear wheel bearings.