I came from something similar, but when buying the Focus I was looking at the Mercedes C300 and BMW 335i which were $42k and $52k, respectively, full-loaded. I've always hated Focuses (because they always looked ridiculous and felt cheap) but my grandfather (who worked at Ford for 42 years) convinced me to test drive the 2012. I chose a $30k Focus over either of those great cars because it handled just as well (better than the C300, and almost as well as the 335i), had a good amount of space (I didn't want a big car...I just wanted a car I would be comfortable with), and looks good.
It definitely doesn't look *as good* as the 335i, but mine looks pretty nice now...and I still love it! It's very agile and carries everything I need. I've never had a hatch before but I love it.