The 2020 Nissan Qashqai is a fairly familiar sight on Aussie roads.
An update at the end of 2017 gave the Qashqai a light styling revision, but the basic package is largely as it was when it launched in 2014 with equipment tweaks along the way..
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in automotive terms, six years is almost a lifetime. Literally, for some models.
The Qashqai Midnight isn’t a new model or an update to an update, but it comes as a special-edition model to help keep Nissan’s small SUV ticking along on the sales chart.
Like last year’s Qashqai N-Sport, the Midnight slots in between the regular ST-L and flagship Ti models, and comes with largely visual changes like additional body-coloured styling and 19-inch ‘Wind’ alloy wheels.
As the name suggests, the Qashqai Midnight plays up its dark side, with an on-trend black pack that sees gloss black applied to the grille, mirror caps, roof rails, front and rear bumper blades, body side moldings, and wheels (now called Black Wind).
There’s a choice of five exterior paint shades available: Vivid Blue, Ivory Pearl, Magnetic Red, Pearl Black and Gun Metallic, as seen here. The finish extends to the lower bumpers and wheel arch flares, replacing – a little ironically for a car with so many black highlights elsewhere – the standard black treatments.
Under the bonnet, the Qashqai remains powered by a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine generating 106kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4400rpm. Not ground-shaking numbers, but still fairly typical among competitors.
There are no other mechanical changes. The transmission remains a CVT automatic and the Qashqai, despite its SUV styling, is front-wheel drive only.
Perhaps a little unusually, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres are a touch more premium than the usual fare at this end of the market – as odd as that might sound. Good to see Nissan isn’t scrimping on quality rubber, then.
Even though it may not be brand new, the package still works pretty well for an urban SUV.
The engine steps off from a standstill rather smartly, which is a little unexpected, but engine response softens slightly as speed rises. On the go, you need to push a little harder for a burst of acceleration.
The CVT auto is a no-surprise package. It does a pretty good job of keeping revs down low, yet still accelerates up to speed nicely. If you press for urgent acceleration, it mimics a traditional stepped transmission instead of just holding revs and sounding coarse.
Given the big wheels and low-profile tyres underneath, the Qashqai may not be the ideal country tourer. The ride can jostle and jiggle, and the suspension tends to crash over rough-edged broken tarmac.
There’s a touch more tyre noise than is ideal at high speed, and a bit of wind noise from the mirrors and front door frames filters into the cabin at times, too.
In town, the Qashqai is at its happiest, the steering is nice and light, though a bit wooly off-centre. Overall, it treads a safe, predictable middle-of-the-road path, dynamically.
Nissan claims it’ll sip fuel at a rate of 6.9 litres per 100km. Sticking to the suburbs netted 9.2L/100km in light traffic, but in mixed conditions a figure of 8.4L/100km is still decent.
On the inside, the Qashqai Midnight goes black-on-black (of course), and looks pretty smart with leather and suede-look combination seats, a black roof lining, and a mix of brushed and gloss-black trim pieces.
Standard kit covers things like manual air-con, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, Bluetooth and voice recognition, keyless entry and start, electric park brake, cruise control, 360-degree cameras, auto lights and wipers, LED headlights with steering-linked adaptive front lighting, and one-touch power windows front and rear.
With a $35,900 price tag, before on-road costs, the Midnight sits towards the top of the Qashqai range between the $34,300 ST-L and Ti grade from $38,790 (both before on-road costs). Do note, though, the ST-L's heated seats go missing from the Midnight in the process, and the sets are manually rather than electrically adjusted.
|2020 Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition|
|Engine||2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol|
|Power and torque||106kW at 6000rpm, 200Nm at 4400rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim, combined||6.9L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||8.4L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up / down)||430L / 1598L|
|Turning circle||Not supplied|
|ANCAP safety rating (year tested)||5 star (2017)|
|Warranty||Five-year / unlimited kilometre|
|Main competitors||Hyundai Kona, Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Seltos, Honda HR-V|
|Price as tested (excl. on road costs)||$35,900|
Perhaps most importantly, safety features like forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and driver-attention monitoring are included as standard.
With newer competitors bringing features like cyclist and pedestrian detection (the latter can be found on the Ti), lane-centring assist, adaptive cruise control (also a Ti feature), and more advanced accident avoidance tech, the Qashqai just scrapes through.
While the Qashqai does come with a five-star ANCAP rating, it wears a slightly older 2017 time stamp.
It’s inside where the Qashqai delivers some of its best work, though. The appearance is probably the biggest give-away that the Qashqai is an older vehicle, but the interior layout is user-friendly and easy to operate.
The infotainment screen is a little compact compared to some rivals, but it packs in the right connectivity, is easy to understand, and comes with some configurable display options to help set it up as you like.
The black leather and Alcantara suede-look trim hints at a more premium approach. Normally all-black interiors can look a little drab, but the use of glossy and brushed accents actually works pretty well here, without setting the car up to date too quickly.
Space is the Qashqai’s real home run, though. No, it isn’t the biggest SUV you can buy, but at 4394mm long and riding on a 2646mm wheelbase it’s only 29mm longer than a Mitsubishi ASX (the top-seller in the small-SUV segment), but has a wheelbase 24mm shorter.
Traditionally that would mean less interior space, but the Qashqai actually surprises inside. Rear seat space is generous when it comes to head room and foot room, though with an upright backrest and a slightly less reclined seating position, knee space is a little limited.
Back seat passengers also go without rear air vents or charge points.
Up front, the seats are comfy without any standout features. Cabin nooks mean there's plenty of space for your keys and wallet with right-sized pockets for both, plus a pair of cupholders and a surprisingly deep console ready to swallow all the antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser you can throw at it. Welcome to the new normal.
Boot space, at 430L, is on the large side for a relatively compact car, though it isn’t very deep from floor to parcel shelf. There’s a square footprint to stow your gear into, plus a pair of bag hooks to save your shopping from skating around the boor floor.
Nissan offers capped-price servicing at 12-month or slightly short 10,000km intervals. The first five visits add up to a reasonable $1451 and no single service exceeds $500 until the 100,000km mark. The warranty is for five years with no kilometre limit for non-commercial use, or 200,000km where used as a taxi, rideshare, delivery or courier vehicle.
Don’t expect the Qashqai Midnight to set your heart on fire. While the styling changes give it a few unique cues, it is still 100 per cent regular Qashqai beneath the glossy highlights.
Honestly, that’s quite alright. It’s a smartly sized package, and can spend a day running around town without either you or the car breaking a sweat. It doesn’t disappoint, but nor does it lead its segment in any way – it’s just good, dependable transport with a few extra bits and bobs thrown in.
There are challengers aplenty in this segment, though. Cars like the Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Volkswagen T-Cross, Mazda CX-30 and MG ZST that all blend in differing levels of equipment, performance and space.
At the very least, the Nissan Qashqai Midnight won’t disappoint, and with the Midnight special features it looks as sharp as any of its competitors, newer or not. It's probably not the value pick of the range, despite its special-edition tag, however.
A cheaper version of the Qashqai, or maybe even next year's new model, might be the better choice for savvy spenders.