Test drove an Acura RSX-S and SVT. RSX felt cramped with poor outward vision poor and didn't come "loaded" as the SVT - which had everything but traction control. Driving position, outward vision and ergonomics all superior to RSX, as are brakes. Body roll excessive and gear linkage slow. Worst feature is the dual mass flywheel, which is supposed to dampen out ham fisted shifting, but merely retards revs, acceleration, and obviates engine braking. Noisy car with practically no sound insulation, although it comes with a good sound system. MPG on the poor side, especially in mixed traffic, (22-23).
A great car to develop, but frustrating out of the box because of compromises the engineers built in for people who cannot drive well. If you don't like fiddling with cars, buy a hi performance Subaru or Mazda, because this car is underpowered for its weight (2810 lbs.). Great outward vision and brakes. Seems a lot more roomy on the inside, at least up front, than it looks from the outside. Back seats next to useless, it should have been designed without them for more cargo space.
Build quality good to above average, uses no oil (now at 93K) and no major repairs except alternator at 85K - which will cost you $800 at a Dealer.
I had the following parts replaced or added:
Sound insulation, Springs, Anti-Roll Bars, Rotors, Struts & Shocks (Koni Yellow), Clutch/Flywheel, Rear Engine Mount, End Links, K&N intake system, CFM throttle body and Hi-Flow Cat Converter (easily passed Illinois EPA). Replaced all suspension bushings with OEM at 90K. All mature modifications, no kid stuff. Transformed car's handling and performance into pocket rocket platform stable at 90mph and above.
If you can find a clean example of this car and afford putting about $5-$8K (parts & labor) of modifications into it, you can run rings around anybody and will have all sorts of people chasing after you because after all, its only a Focus!
Bought the car back in 2011, used, about 65,000 miles on it. I should be able to get some life out of it, right? Wrong. About 4 months later, the alternator had to be changed. Figured that was normal - took it for inspection in June of 2012 - needed a tune-up. Then - the ignition started sticking, got to the point where I was coming out of a hair appointment and the car would not start. Had to call a mechanic - $400 dollars to get the ignition fixed! Now - the battery's drained and my transmission is sticking. I have no clue how much it's gonna be, but the car has been sitting in the driveway for about 3 months and I refuse to put another dime into it. Good riddance.
I love this car. The only issue is that it is rough on tires. I normally get about 40K out of a 60K tire. I average 26-27mpg in the winter and 29-32mpg the rest of the year. I have 149900 miles on my car. I have not experienced many of the issues that others have, but then I bought mine new and know what it has gone through. If you do the maintenance when the owner's manual says to do it then you will have very few problems. Word to drivers the rotors are not the best, but the pads are really good so if you have worn out your brake pads, that is on you. I went 89K before having to change rotors and it was a mountain pass that did in the rear brake pads.