i bought this car after researching for several months. Car and Driver ranked the 1st generation focus as a "ten best car" and consumer reports gave the focus high marks. after 58,000, the AC went out due to a bad compressor. that was a $1300 bill. up until then, i had no problems except normal wear and tear (i'm still on original brake pads and rotors). the car is not as refined as a civic, corolla, or mazda3. it's more fun to drive than a corolla, but a corolla has better fit and finish. overall, this car is fun, but rough around the edges. wish gas mileage was better. i get 25 mpg with lead foot.
"european" suspension--car is fun to drive as a result.
better fit and finish, better mileage. interior plastics look cheap.
My A/C didn't encounter any problems until about 170k and it was just a hose leaking and I do agree that some of the plastic parts are on the cheap side but I'm surprised by your fuel consumption I get between 29 and 33 (usually 31). I also agree with the suspension, it's a pretty good ride, I mean, it's no Audi but I feel like it reaches a pretty good compromise between suppressing vibration and handling exuberant cornering.