Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

One area where the S-Cross surprises in a positive sense is the performance. With just 127bhp and an official 0-62 time of 10.2sec, it sounds, frankly, slow. However, even though our test car had less than 200 miles on the clock, it managed 9.6sec from rest to 62mph.

That’s still hardly electrifying, but it generally feels more than adequate, and it’s the result of a kerb weight of only 1.3 tonnes and mild-hybrid assistance that lends useful muscle in the low range. Up to fourth gear, the S-Cross is also quicker in-gear than the Nissan Qashqai we tested in 2021, which had considerably more power, at 156bhp, but only a 12V mild-hybrid system.

That’s reflected in our subjective impressions of an engine that’s always willing and torquey. It doesn’t sound particularly happy to be revved out, becoming quite coarse at high revs, but as our test car had not been properly run-in, that issue might very well resolve itself with some miles.

Although the car in the photos is the automatic version, we spent most of the test with the manual gearbox, and the three-pedal version is the one we’d recommend for its light but precise and positive action – an unexpected delight. The clutch feels slightly spongy with a short travel but is easy to use, and the pedals are perfectly set-up for heel-toe rev-matching.

The automatic, meanwhile, is a fairly old-fashioned six-speed torque converter. It slushes through the gears inoffensively and tends to keep the RPMs a touch too high for utmost cruising comfort, but that’s still preferable to a lot of modern autos’ tendency to shift early and make the engine bog down. There are shift paddles, but there’s little need for them. What is quite annoying is that the old-school lever, aside from being unpleasant to hold, is easy to accidentally knock into manual mode: not a bugbear if you choose the better manual version.

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The brakes are only adequate. Pedal progression in normal driving is excellent and always inspires confidence, but the ultimate stopping distances during testing were lagging slightly behind rivals.