I wanted a car with 4 cylinders and a 5-speed to replace my aging 6-cylinder auto '99 Jetta. Jetta still beautiful and a joy to drive, but neither very economical nor particularly reliable. Always liked styling of the Focus, so I thought I would try it, after 25 years of VWs. Don't know what all the carping about build quality is about. Paint is deep and lustrous, body panels fit, feels tight and solid on the road - no rattles or squeaks. Interior not as pretty as Jetta, but is functional, sturdy and comfortable. Engine torquey with smooth power delivery. Focus weighs 500 lbs less than Jetta, so power deficit not a big deal. Moreover, car has been very reliable - old Foci I've seen hold up well.
Like tall Euro driving position, supportive well-formed seats, great steering feel with outstanding leather-covered wheel, neutral handling, smooth ride, slick shifter. Very nice Pirelli tires. Top-end audio system is outstanding in a car this cheap. Low on glamor, very high in driving pleasure.
Rear headrests! Anti-lock brakes and side-curtain airbags STANDARD! ALL windows should have one-touch up AND down. Neat VW feature: windows and moonroof work for 10 minutes after engine shutoff and can be closed from outside the car. 2.3L engine STANDARD! Nicer plastics inside. Standard iPod plug in.