First drive: Ford Focus PowerShift
PowerShift is actually Ford's new six-speed gearbox that's claimed to give the smoothness and convenience of an automatic with few of the fuel and CO2 penalties of a traditional auto.
In truth, it's a similar twin-clutch arrangement to the Volkswagen group's DSG gearbox, where the gears are pre-selected in anticipation of the next gearshift.
Whether you choose to leave the gearlever in Drive, or make changes yourself, it all works in a similar unobtrusive manner to the VW box; changes are slurred away with minimal shunt through the drivetrain.
The only thing missing is a pair of steering wheel-mounted paddles for changing gear.
The gearbox is available with Ford's 2.0-litre diesel engine in 134bhp or a detuned 108bhp guise. Each is a punchy, quiet engine that's well suited to the new 'box, thanks to strong low and mid-range muscle.
Although 48.6mpg and 154g/km of CO2 for the 134bhp version means you'll pay 3% more company car tax and fall short of the 51.3mpg of a manual car, the relatively lightweight and absence of mechanical drag associated with traditional autos means the PowerShift is an extremely efficient device.
Along with the gearbox, you also get a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to reduce soot emission, all for £1200 over the manual alternative. The best part of the deal, though, is that the sweet driving manners of the Focus remain unaffected.
• Focus models with the PowerShift gearbox are available now. They cost from £17,900.