This is a terrible car. I've had it almost a year and have had numerous hassles with it from the paint, CD player, air conditioner, and the exhaust. If you are looking for quality, DO NOT buy this car. It is a total LEMON! I will never own another Ford.
The overall look of the car is unique.
Improve the quality of the entire car! The paint is awful, air conditioner is ruining the inside of my car and Ford cannot seem to find a part to fix it.
This is the car with *the full package*. Not just shoving an S/C or turbo on for bragging rights, this car runs like a tuned European car WITH [some] torque. It handles, brakes, sounds (thumping stereo!), excellent road feel, and rides comfortably. Excellent daily driver for those on the go -- hatchback capability and room is excellent. This car is for people that know how to drive and wants a relaxing, involved driving experience. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to drive and yet utilize the full potential of their car, hence it's demise :(. Only thing to look forward is most manufacturers have taken notice and are integrating SVT DNA into their lineups for better cars.
Bought a year ago and absolutely love the car. Unfortunately Ford decided to drop the 2.3L in the ZX3 for 2005 which I believe was a great combination. I had a 6 cylinder Ranger that sucked gas and this car does better but not great. I tend to "drive" the car and get around 24 mpg city without the A/C on - average, not bad. The car only cost me $10k brand new (with rebates and A plan). I've spruced up the interior a bit as there are many aftermarket items out there for the Focus which personalize without being gaudy. Fun to drive. No problems to date - go out and buy one used if you can find one. Make sure it is a manual to maximize the fun factor. Did I say it was fun to drive?
Performance (2.3L manual), styling (I've added the SVT Focus wheels - now sets the car apart), price.
I think the 2005 has been made more run of the mill and now has generic styling in and out, nothing really to improve upon this 2004 especially considering what I paid.
My model is the "premium" ZX3 with the 2.3L engine. It is fully loaded and I picked it up for $11,500 with only 11k miles on it. If you don't have this engine, you are missing out...it really makes the car. I was looking for a hatchback to replace my truck and had one of these as a rental. I liked it over the Honda Civic Si, Golf/GTI, Protege5, Mazda3 hatchback, etc. Great handling and performance (145 hp), and decent mileage (24/30). Decent build quality for the money; couple of minor problems so far.
Engine performance, handling, Audiophile stereo, hatchback practicality, and sunroof.
Terrible cup holders; include 4 wheel disc brakes standard; side-airbags should be standard.
The vehicle handles wonderfully well. It took to the Pacific Coast Highway with agility I would not have expected for a car at it's price level. It also impressed me when driving through Flaming Gorge on the way to Las Vegas. I did not experience any loss of power while running the AC. In city traffic it is very responsive. The standard transmission could feel a little more solid -- there is a tiny bit of detectable "give." I haven't had any problems with it except that my first oil change had to be postponed due to the new oil filter not having saturated the market yet. A chrome Harley filter could have worked.. but... :-) The filter is amazingly accessible.
Road stability, steering responsiveness, passing and merging power, passenger space, very quiet. Suave looking exterior, easy oil change with filter mounted "upside down" right next to oil tank. Pretty underside with a reasonable amount of component exposure.
The interior panelling seems to be "cheap" and loose. The front bumper is this shoddy plastic thing that looks and feels like it'd be an instant casualty to the smallest of accidents. Hard to clean bugs off. Rear seats are difficult to work with for increasing trunk capacity.