Have had my focus for 1.5 months and have enjoyed the car for what it is, a gas sipping commuter.
I have the auto, hatch and SEL trim with absolutely no complaints.
Just recently I've driven it on some of our twisty mountain roads out here and while the handling and performance doesn't compare to previously owned vehicles, I don't expect it to. It is not a S/C mustang or an R-1, its a 4 cylinder, automatic Focus.
What I did like during my canyon dancing experience is that the car held the road very well with very little over or under steer or body roll. I didn't push the G limits so there was no slipping or sliding but my pace was brisk, as brisk as the car would let me. Both times I checked out the "S" mode on the transmission. Overall the suspension on this vehicle is well tuned as is for the occasional canyon dancing excursions. Normal road driving I have no complaints either. It is quiet, does the recommended speed limit blah, blah, blah.
in S mode is where things got interesting for me. There was none of that stop light panic where the tranny decides to "hiccup" off the line. You pressed the go pedal and it went. Acceleration of the car really came alive, relatively speaking of course. Going up and down the hills was not a problem as it is when you are in D. By that I mean, constant shifting of the tranny. Or, it at least appears to by the tach readings. The other thing I noticed and this could just be plain misperception on my part, the steering seemed to "tighten" up while in S mode. This is not a negative comment, it is a good thing while banging through the gears and the twisties. Up shifting the car responded well, down shifting was another story. It seems the engineers at Ford feel they are smarter than you and even though you attempt to down shift if you are not at the right speed/rpm, the tranny won't do it. Also on the up shift as you near the rev limiter the tranny will shift for you. This is annoying when you are just about to enter another left/right hander and you want the transmission of the car to do the braking for you, the car upshifts. ARGH! Guess if you want to do this kind of spirited driving a manual may be the right choice. If you keep this car in the power band, say 3500-5500 RPMs it performs great, as far as the motor & tranny are concerned.
Having to execute a pass while going up hill, welp wadda ya want? Its a 4 banger auto. Plan your up hill passing accordingly is all I gotta say. As my grandpa used to say, "Its got no snot".
Braking on this car... WOW... through 37 miles of right and left decreasing radius turns (turns that tighten up as you go through them), assents and decents there was absolutely no brake fade. There were a few times I had to get on the binders pretty hard and was able to bring the speed down with no fade or wobblation, very nice. Again this no built up sports car or bike so it doesn't corner/handle as well one of those vehicles but for factory stock it was good.
My overall impression of this car for the last 45 days have been impressive. Having owned a 1986 Ford Escort, new off the lot by the way, I was leary about going small econo box again. For those old enought to remember, the escorts were slugs both in power and handling. Emancipating cars....
Would I buy this car again?
With this trim package and body style? YES!
The only thing I would recommend to Ford is, PADDLE SHIFTERS! Dude's new FIT across the street has 'em why not the FOCUS?
Hope this helps.