UNDER-RATED and possibly facing some fall-out from the LW series’ twin-clutch transmission woes, the LZ Focus has still scored a notable second place. The LZ series now comes with a conventional six-speed automatic or six-speed manual. The 1.5-litre turbo engine comes from Ford’s EcoBoost family, and at 132kW is reasonably powerful for this segment but still claims a thrifty 6.2L/100km. It’s available in sedan as well as hatchback but there are more model variants in the latter. So for the entry-level Trend to make it onto the podium this year is a great achievement. The Trend spec does have a good helping of standard features which helps it to hold its own in the value for money stakes. But Focus also performs sharply with strong on-the-road scores due to its nimble handling and punchy performance. It also rides particularly well, too, which is a bonus as ride can sometimes be a trade-off for better handling capabilities. Even though Focus now comes with Ford’s acclaimed Sync3 connectivity system, including satellite navigation, the latest active safety gear such as lane-keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed autonomous braking, driver condition monitor and adaptive cruise control need to be purchased as an optional extra for around $2000.