New car review: Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition
With a new Nissan Qashqai on the horizon, the Japanese car maker has thrown a bunch of extra kit at this Midnight Edition.
Nissan’s all-new third generation Qashqai small SUV has broken cover in Europe, but the company’s Australian arm is tight-lipped about when the new model will land here.
This may have something to do with the recent release of a special-edition version of the soon-to-be-superseded second-generation model, appropriately named the Qashqai Midnight Edition.
Pricewise, the Midnight Edition slots between the N-Sport, a limited-edition model that like Midnight is based on the mid-range ST-L, and top-of-the-heap Ti.
Styling wise, the theme is predictably black, with a range largely cosmetic enhancements, and a few equipment upgrades.
The dark stuff certainly adds extra road presence to the Qashqai’s familiar face, with a gloss-black treatment on the grille, rear bumper blades, mirror caps, body side mouldings, and roof rails.
There are also darkened LED headlights with integrated LED turn indicators (in lieu of the ST-L’s standard halogen lamps), darkened LED taillights, and gloss black 19-inch alloys (up from 18s).
Other exterior design changes include body-coloured wheel arch mouldings and “Midnight” badge on the rear.
The back on black theme continues inside, with illuminated kick plates, brushed black interior accents, black roof headlining, and Alcantara suede seat trim with leather accents.
Technical features include adaptive front-lighting, as used on the Ti grade, along with standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio with voice recognition, DAB+ radio, sat-nav, and a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen.
The latter now looks a little underdone compared with more recently released competitors, like the Kia Seltos, but no doubt Nissan will rectify this with the all-new model.
On the safety front, the Midnight Edition’s active safety features include lane departure warning, intelligent emergency braking, forward collision warning, intelligent trace control, blind-spot warning, park sensors front and rear, and rear cross-traffic alert.
That’s class competitive but not class leading, leaving space for the drum roll when Nissan’s next generation ProPilot driver assistance technology arrives with the new car.
Under the skin the car retains the Qashqai’s familiar 106kW 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder, driving the front wheels via Nissan’s Xtronic CVT auto.
The combination delivers sufficient get up and go to fulfill most buyer’s needs and we found the gearbox to be one of the better CVTs around.
Even on the larger 19-inch wheels, the Midnight Edition retains a supple and comfortable ride with secure and competent handling to round out the driving experience.
Occupant space as well as practical considerations like oddment stowage and cargo capacity rate well by small SUV standards.
The cabin is neatly finished and there’s enough soft-touch surfaces to counter the harder plastic trims that abound.
The use of stitch details, piano black surrounds, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel enhance the overall sense of quality.
Despite tracing its lineage back to 2014, the outgoing Qashqai still provides practical and easy-going motoring.
Given this, and the comprehensive styling and modest equipment upgrades of the Midnight Edition, the premium for getting on board seems reasonable at $1600 over the donor ST-L.
For those who prefer to hang out for the new model, expect an all-new look based on a more modern platform with the possibility of 2WD and AWD drivetrains and manual or Xtronic CVT transmissions.
Engine choices in Europe include a 1.3-litre petrol with mild hybrid assistance, or an electric model dubbed ePower that uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine to charge it battery.
At the time of writing there was no official launch date or pricing information for the new Qashqai, but some media outlets have predicted a late 2021 or early 2022 launch.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder
ANCAP CRASH RATING: 5 stars (2017)
FUEL CONSUMPTION (combined cycle, litres/100km): 6.9 (159g/km CO₂)
FOR: Space, equipment upgrades over donor model, practical and easy to live with, neatly finished, attractive styling enhancements.
AGAINST: Mostly cosmetic changes, donor car starting to show its age, new model not far off, no USB or power in row two, space saver spare.