I bought a Focus, here is how I rated the other cars I test drove:
Astra: did not like the styling, or dynamics of the chassis. Also very expensive for what you get. And its a Holden
Corolla: Engine had nothing unless it was at full power, you feel every kilo when you go to turn. Was my third choice.
Peugeot 206: My second choice, but only in the Gti model. Also expensive. Good drive, but same as Focus - needs more go.
Imprezza: same thing as you said, no build quality.
Focus: underpowered, but great chassis and build quality.
Pulsar: the new one has terrible styling, with all that chrome.
Lancer: the new Lancer has even less power than the others, and the new styling is not to my liking.
Those are all personal opinions of course, but I went with the Focus in the end. I'm happy putting a few mods on the Focus engine to give it as much power (or more, depending on how much I want to spend) as it's fastest competitors. It'll never be a drag car, but that's ok to me.
They aren't for everyone (which I like), but that was my choice.