REVIEW | Stylish 2021 Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition comes at a price

The Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition looks good in its dark paint job.
The Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition looks good in its dark paint job.
Image: SUPPLIED

It may surprise many that there’s only been two generations of the Nissan Qashqai throughout its 16-year lifespan. The model has only had retouches to keep it abreast of changing trends; such was the brilliance of the first generation. It’s still a product that resonates with customers.

The original J1 model, with its period-specific styling of bulbous headlamps poking out from a bull-nosed front and an odd shape of a high roofline, helped to accelerate the popular SUV genre.

The J2 model’s tapered front, pronounced lower roof line and thinner glass house has given the vehicle an edgier look. It’s one of more attractive alternatives in a very congested segment. The new Midnight Edition I’ve recently spent time driving is the latest in a long list of incremental enhancements to keep it interesting and gets its nocturnal name from having a black roof, black-wind 19-inch alloys, gloss-black mirror caps and a blackened grille.

It’s a purely aesthetic treatment that doesn’t rehash any technical details.

Further differentiators are found inside the car where there are black air vents vs those with a shiny surround found in regular Qashqai models, while the seats feature Alcantara. Standard equipment includes an around-view monitor with moving-object detection, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert, emergency braking and forward-collision warning, and satellite navigation. You’ll also get NissanConnect 2.0, with its 17.7cm display screen that can run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It’s still a vehicle with a usable interior space of 2,646mm of wheelbase and up to 1,585mm of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. The interior ambience is exactly what I remember: comfy and ergonomic for both city and long-haul drives.

The Midnight Edition deletes shiny surrounds from air vents and adds Alcantara to cloth covers on the seats.
The Midnight Edition deletes shiny surrounds from air vents and adds Alcantara to cloth covers on the seats.
Image: SUPPLIED

The Midnight Edition, which you can specify in either a smoky grey or a contrasting white exterior paint option, is available in a 1.2l four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels only.

It’s a refined motor that gets up to speed, and once it’s up there it’s quiet and not troubled by much. With 85kW and 165Nm on tap, it’s the least powerful car in its segment, but there’s a useful swell of torque to make it tractable in both urban and open road conditions. The standard-issue CVT automatic transmission does a good job of keeping a tidy wave of power at all times and consumption that averages 6.2l/100km.

Handling and balance isn’t the stuff of Teutonic dreams, but neither is it dull. It actually impresses despite a basic suspension that has none of the fancy adjustability, yet the standard levels of pliancy to be had are quite exemplary, and the liveliness around corners worthy of enthusiasm.

The wheels aren’t just black; they have a crinkled surface that increases the dazzle on the move.
The wheels aren’t just black; they have a crinkled surface that increases the dazzle on the move.
Image: SUPPLIED

I like how it shrinks inside lanes, and how there’s a hunkered-down road perch about it that doesn’t compromise on its origins of a soccer mom’s car. You certainly can drive it like an SUV over imperfect surfaces too. Its standard 182mm of ground clearance allows for this, but the sporty feel and ornamental coolness of its low-profile wheels will discourage this.

There are plenty of moments behind the wheel where the Qashqai makes perfect sense. It’s sized well enough to never feel cumbersome and has a satisfying level of safety and luxury kit.

What the Midnight package does is give this particularly sensible car not an entirely different, semi-dark lord look from its cousins. Is it worth investing in over a cheaper model? That’s a question best left to the individual. I’m happy with it in any guise.

Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Four-cylinder turbo

Capacity: 1.2l

Power: 85kW

Torque: 165Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: CVT

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Front wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 173km/h

0-100km/h: 12.9 sec (as claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 6.2l/100km (as claimed)

Emissions: 144g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

ABS brakes, stability control, LED daytime driving running lights, rain sensor wipers, air conditioning, keyless access, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, black alloy wheels, six airbags, multifunction steering wheel controls, cloth/Alcantara upholstery, cruise control, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Six years/150,000km

Maintenance plan: Three years/unlimited km

Price: R485,400

Lease*: R10,407 a month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition

WE LIKE:

Styling package, refined ride quality, digital features

WE DISLIKE:

Outpowered by most rivals

VERDICT:

A likable but quite pricey crossover

STAR RATING:

*****Design

***Performance

*****Economy

*****Ride/handling

*****Safety

***Value For Money

****Overall

Competition

Honda HR-V 1.5 Comfort, 88kW/145Nm — R415,400

Hyundai Creta 1.5 Executive 84kW/143Nm — R429,900

Kia Seltos 1.6 EX, 90W/151Nm — R411,995

Mazda CX-30 2.0 Active auto, 121kW/213Nm — R469,000

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2.0 GLS — 110kW/198Nm — R439,995

Volkswagen T-Roc 1.4TSI Design, 110kW/250Nm — R489,400

Toyota C-HR 1.2T Plus auto — 85kW/185Nm — R431,900


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