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Nissan Qashqai 2021 review: Midnight Edition

EXPERT RATING
7
The Nissan Qashqai is an established, if weird, nameplate now. Having been around for a while, this model has built its own presence in the small-to-mid-sized SUV market. But with so many options in this segment now - about 20 new models since the Qashqai launched - does the new Midnight Edition add anything worth considering?

The Nissan Qashqai isn't new - it's been around for more than seven years now, and there's supposedly a new one coming in the next 12 months or so.

But this model - the Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition - is a newly added variant that looks a bit more special than the regular versions of the Qashqai small SUV.

It competes against cars like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR and Mitsubishi ASX in the mainstream zone, but also the likes of the MG ZS and MG ZST, Peugeot 2008, VW T-Cross, Skoda Karoq and SsangYong Korando in the broader set. So does it make sense for the money? And is it still worth considering, given it's getting on a bit? Let's find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The new Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition comes in at $35,900 (MSRP/RRP - not including on-road costs), which means it slots in above the mid-range ST-L grade but below the top-spec Ti model. It's also just above the existing N-Sport model, which shares a few features with this model.

So for about thirty six grand, what do you get? The Midnight Edition gets a bunch of dark-themed extras the enhance the look: black grille, adaptive front LED headlights with darkened surrounds, black bumper blades, black 19-inch wheels, darkened LED tail-lights, and black mirror caps, side mouldings and roof rails. There's also a Midnight badge on the tailgate.

The Midnight Edition comes with black 19-inch wheels. (image: Matt Campbell) The Midnight Edition comes with black 19-inch wheels. (image: Matt Campbell)

Inside there are a few more black touches, with gloss and brushed interior finishes, illuminated kick plates, Alcantara trimmed seats with leather accents, and there's black headlining, too.

That's in addition to the stuff you'd usually get in the ST-L, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and DAB digital radio. There's also keyless entry and push-button start, manual seat adjustment, manual air-conditioning, auto headlights and wipers, a flat-bottom leather-lined steering wheel, and 4.2-inch driver info display with digital speedometer.

Standard safety spec includes a 360-degree surround view camera system with reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors, and there's more to discuss on the safety specs below.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen media system, which has a simple enough menu system and the Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring tech seemed to work a treat every single time for me. (image: Matt Campbell) The 7.0-inch touchscreen media system, which has a simple enough menu system and the Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring tech seemed to work a treat every single time for me. (image: Matt Campbell)

Colour options for the Midnight Edition include the Gun Metallic you see here, as well as Vivid Blue, Ivory Pearl (white), Magnetic Red and Pearl Black.

It's a decent value proposition, and could well be more appealing than some rivals. Don't know whether we could say it's better value than a C-HR Koba or CX-30 Touring, though...

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Midnight Edition is all about standing out from the other Qashqais in the shopping centre car park, and to the brand's credit, it does. Nissan describes the look being “stand-out” and “street-smart”. Yeah, fair call. It's a looker.

The appearance is more contemporary than the actual age of the Qashqai suggests should be possible - the angular headlights and sharp LED daytime running lights look great, while the blacked-out exterior trim finishes and colour-coded lower body kit styling pack really helps keep the old Qashqai modern looking.

The blacked-out exterior trim finishes and colour-coded lower body kit styling pack really helps keep the old Qashqai modern looking. (image: Matt Campbell) The blacked-out exterior trim finishes and colour-coded lower body kit styling pack really helps keep the old Qashqai modern looking. (image: Matt Campbell)

But there might be some people out there who just know the facts around the Qashqai's age, and it's more evident in the cabin, where Nissan has tried to keep the cockpit appearance up to date over the years, but it's really showing its age in terms of the design. More on the practicality below.

More philosophically speaking, the Qashqai is a larger entrant in the small SUV segment. Back when it launched, it was straddling the barrier between small and mid-sized SUVs, but with the recent ambush on the compact SUV/crossover market - with the likes of the VW T-Cross, Skoda Kamiq and others all offering tiny exterior size with big interior practicality - the Qashqai is feeling a bit dated, and a bit odd-sized, too. 

At 4394mm long, 1806mm wide and 1595mm tall, it could be the right size for a lot of buyers. But what's the cabin practicality and space like? Check out our interior images for an idea.

The appearance is more contemporary than the actual age of the Qashqai suggests should be possible. (image: Matt Campbell) The appearance is more contemporary than the actual age of the Qashqai suggests should be possible. (image: Matt Campbell)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

One of the reasons people have bought the Qashqai over the years is that it is arguably the “right size” for most buyers.

And it hits the mark for those who want something hatchback sized but also want that higher seating position. But it may be too high for some.

Like me! I usually have to lower my seat when my partner drives a test car (she is 165cm, I'm 182cm) – that was not the case in the Qashqai, because the seating position is so high as standard that she was obviously comfortable - but that was in the lowest position. I wanted to lower it further: it felt about two inches higher up than I'd like to sit.

  • The cabin space could be better up front. (image: Matt Campbell) The cabin space could be better up front. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • There’s enough width that you could just fit three adults, but the seat comfort isn’t great. (image: Matt Campbell) There’s enough width that you could just fit three adults, but the seat comfort isn’t great. (image: Matt Campbell)

Otherwise the ergonomics are mostly good. There's reach and rake adjustment for the lovely, flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, and the vision from the driver's seat is mostly pretty good.

The driver gets a 4.2-inch digital info screen with plenty of available data including digital speedo, and it's all pretty easy to interact with, too. 

The same is the case for the 7.0-inch touchscreen media system, which has a simple enough menu system and the Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring tech seemed to work a treat every single time for me. I wouldn't really use anything else on most occasions, but the radio controls are easy and there are knobs and buttons to appease cranks like me who don't like digital buttons.

I like the presentation of the Midnight model's cabin, with the brushed black finishes adding a little bit of interest to what is otherwise a dated looking interior. The next-generation Qashqai - due in 2021 - is likely to take a huge step forward in terms of interior design and presentation.

Nissan has tried to keep the cockpit appearance up to date over the years, but it’s really showing its age in terms of the design. (image: Matt Campbell) Nissan has tried to keep the cockpit appearance up to date over the years, but it’s really showing its age in terms of the design. (image: Matt Campbell)

Indeed, the cabin space could be better up front. There are two cup holders between the seats, and two small open storage areas (okay for a phone and wallet, but it all fills up fast), and there's a large covered centre console bin. There's no wireless phone charger, and there's no space that's really big enough for a larger smartphone to sit comfortably, either.

The doors have bottle holders up front, while in the rear the door storage is a bit smaller. Unlike some other small SUVs around this price point, there are some soft materials and elbow pads on the back doors, too.

The back seat has no rear air-vents, but has another small open storage box - would be a great spot for USB charge ports, but that's not the case. There are twin map pockets on the seatbacks, as well as a fold down armrest with cupholders which offers 60/40 split capability if you need to fold it down for additional storage.

There's enough width that you could just fit three adults, but the seat comfort isn't great - it juts into your lower back a bit. As mentioned, I'm 182cm or 6'0”, and I found the actual physical space behind my own driving position to be fine. My knees were brushing the seat ahead, while my shins were hard against it.

  • The boot capacity of the Qashqai is good, with 430 litres of cargo space. (image: Matt Campbell) The boot capacity of the Qashqai is good, with 430 litres of cargo space. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • The shape of the boot is a little odd. (image: Matt Campbell) The shape of the boot is a little odd. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • Meaning we couldn’t fit our entire suitcase set (124L, 95L and 36L) all at once. (image: Matt Campbell) Meaning we couldn’t fit our entire suitcase set (124L, 95L and 36L) all at once. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • Soft luggage could be a better option here. (image: Matt Campbell) Soft luggage could be a better option here. (image: Matt Campbell)

Kids will likely be better catered for in terms of space, and there are dual ISOFIX and three top-tether points for fixing car seats in safely. 

The boot capacity of the Qashqai is good, with 430 litres of cargo space. The shape of the boot is a little odd, meaning we couldn't fit our entire suitcase set (124L, 95L and 36L) all at once. Soft luggage could be a better option here. 

There is a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor, too.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Nothing too special here. The Midnight Edition runs the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 106kW (at 6000rpm) and 200Nm (at 4400rpm), which is paired exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) auto and front-wheel drive.

The outputs are okay for the class. The drive experience could be better, though. More on that in the Driving section.

Harbouring dreams of tackling the great Aussie caravan trip with a Qashqai? Beware the towing capacity is 729kg unbraked and 1200kg braked.

The Midnight Edition runs the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 106kW (at 6000rpm) and 200Nm (at 4400rpm). (image: Matt Campbell) The Midnight Edition runs the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 106kW (at 6000rpm) and 200Nm (at 4400rpm). (image: Matt Campbell)

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The claimed combined cycle fuel consumption is 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres, which again, is okay for the segment but not astounding. Turbocharged rivals claim about 30 per cent less in some cases.

In our testing, we saw an at the pump average of 10.0L/100km across a mix of urban, highway and open road driving. That's not great.

Thankfully the fuel tank capacity is a rather generous 65 litres - a lot for a compact SUV like this.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

I wouldn't recommend the Qashqai to my mum, but you might recommend it to your mum. I know my mum would love the size, the seating position, and the fact it has a few desirable safety items.

So, why wouldn't my mum like it? She's a bit of a car enthusiast, and she loves cars that are exciting to drive. And the Qashqai - even this Midnight Edition - is not that.

Indeed, it is one of the most unappealing cars in the segment in terms of driving manners, with nothing to set it apart and make you go ‘wow!'. It's older than most of its rivals, admittedly, but just be aware that the Qashqai is a car for those who have needs, more than wants.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine is okay in some situations, but it generally feels strangled by the CVT automatic, which is annoyingly inconsistent in the way it behaves, and can be really frustrating in the way that it will offer a lot of acceleration in one instance and then almost dullness in other instances - all while applying about the same amount of throttle.

The angular headlights and sharp LED daytime running lights look great. (image: Matt Campbell) The angular headlights and sharp LED daytime running lights look great. (image: Matt Campbell)

The powertrain is the biggest issue with this car - it really isn't that enjoyable to drive in any situation other than highway cruising. And yes, it will get away from a standstill fine - better than some rivals with dual-clutch automatic transmissions, too - it just struggles to maintain linear momentum and it's hard to drive it smoothly as a result.

 And the Midnight Edition with the larger alloy wheels and decent tyres also sours the drive experience, with a ride that is a bit firm thanks to the low profile rubber, but also a bit bouncy and unsettled as well. It just isn't as comfortable or as compliant as many of its rivals.

Further to that, there is some serious road noise to contend with on coarse chip roads. The M4 motorway in Sydney forms a big part of my driving, and there are sections on there where I had to adjust the stereo volume just to hear the music over the boom, while on the better surfaced parts, it was smooth progress.

Over speed bumps and in urban driving you will likely also notice that the rear suspension is a bit sharp.

In driving around town, the steering offers a light enough action and is also reasonably fuss free, plus there's a bit of feel through the wheel but it's just not that engaging to drive.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Nissan Qashqai was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating in 2017, but it wouldn't score that under today's stricter criteria.

That said, the Qashqai Midnight has a few safety inclusions that help it stand out. Standard is the aforementioned 360-degree surround view camera system, as well as front and rear parking sensors, and it has a forward collision warning system with a low speed auto emergency braking (AEB) but it doesn't incorporate pedestrian or cyclist detection - you have to get the Ti spec for that.

Also standard here is a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning (not lane keeping assistance - again, that's on the Ti grade), and seven airbags: dual front, front side, driver's knee and curtain coverage for both rows.

There's no adaptive cruise control on this grade. You guessed it - the Ti has it.

There is a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor, too. (image: Matt Campbell) There is a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor, too. (image: Matt Campbell)

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Nissan range is backed by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is about the standard offer in the Australian market. Rivals like the Kia Seltos, MG ZS and ZST, and SsangYong Korando have seven-year warranty cover, while Mitsubishi offers up to 10 years for the ASX and Eclipse Cross.

There's a capped price servicing plan that runs to 12 years or 120,000km so, you guessed it, the maintenance intervals are every 12 months/10,000km (whichever occurs first), which means they're a bit less lenient than competitors which offer 15,000km intervals.

The average servicing cost over that 12-year period, according to Nissan's website, is $322.75. That's not bad as a baseline, but that doesn't include some consumables.

The brand also offers a five-year roadside assistance service as part of the warranty plan.

Verdict

The Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition has a nice look to it, and some nice interior inclusions as well. It's a good size and offers competitive value for money, and if you're not that fussed about how a car drives, you could find it to be a great choice for your needs.

But bear in mind it's getting on in years, and there are now literally 20 newer entrants in the small SUV segment that could well deserve your attention more than this car does.

Does the new Midnight Edition offer enough of a reason to consider the Qashqai over its numerous rivals? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

EXPERT RATING
7
Price and features8
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving6
Safety7
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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