O yea, the Zetec would be more fun with a manual, but the power difference between Zetec and Duratec is somewhere around 20-30HP at stock levels.
And the D23 responds better to performance parts. If you can, find a D23 for sure, but if you just can't, then go for the next best thing, Duratec 2.0L or the Zetec manual.
Don't get me wrong, It's not like I'm getting rid of my Zetec auto, but I am going to get a manual trans, and then build the motor up, regardless of how good the Duratecs are.
One day I'll swap a Duratec in it, but for now, I'll keep the Zetec in the wagon.
2000 SE wagon 2.0l Zetec.