I'm liking my Sigma 18-50/f2.8
My wife took this snap. She uses my 20D as a P&S. Just puts it on P and shoots away. You are right, the focus ended up on the crown but the eyes are clear enough that it doesn't detract too much from the pic and the clear crown is a nice effect. Truth is, I hadn't even checked the focus till you mentioned it, I just liked the pic.
I've been shooting weddings for friends and family for a number of years and I recently bought this lens for that purpose. I expect to leave it on the camera for most of the wedding day.
To answer your question, yes, it's the most recent macro version.
Other than the obvious increase in aperture over the kit lens, the biggest thing I have noticed is the richer colours. I always tweaked the saturation up a bit with the kit lens but with the Sigma, I usually don't touch the saturation other than to occasionally turn it down.
I read all the reviews and I know this is not a perfect lens but I'm very happy with the results for my use.