We went through the same process and also ended up with a 2015 3. The Focus was expensive, felt cheap inside, and that auto trans needs to go to school - lots of weird jolts and actions. VW's drive nicely but anecdotal experiences of family and friends suggest that out of warranty costs will be high, and we tend to keep a car for at least ten years. Civic was a close second but the Mazda offers at the time were irresistible.
We have had NO trouble with the car.
It's my wife's car and she loves the thing. I am not such a big fan as I find it hard to see out of. Big A pillars, tiny rear window, high belt line. Our 2012 Forester feels panoramic by comparison. But...its more a function of current car design that seems hell bent on minimizing window area. But it drives well. Agree on the tires making a difference!