Our independent 2021 Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition review in Australia, including price, specs, interior, ride and handling, safety and score.

Box-office popularity and critical acclaim don’t always align. Sometimes the biggest cinematic hits fall foul of the critics, leaving hearts of the masses and bums on seats to outweigh the minds of a learned few. Ticket sales reign supreme and it’s deemed a success.

The Nissan Qashqai has, for the most part, lived up to this scenario since its inception (previously branded Dualis Down Under). While it doesn’t top the VFACTS sales charts and it’s unlikely to win a group comparison test, the Qashqai is a consistent seller. Tied to a strong brand, the Qashqai offers families big value from their small SUV.

However, it’s been around a while – since 2014, in fact. So, to keep interest high and customers walking back into post-Covid showrooms, Nissan has delved into the gloss-black-paint reserves to create the Midnight Edition. 

How much does it cost?

The Midnight Edition asks $35,900 before on-road costs and sits between the ST-L and Ti model grades. Check for deals as a driveaway price of $36,740 has been advertised. It is front-wheel-drive only and no diesel or hybrid options are available.

What does it cost to own?

The Qashqai is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is pretty standard within the industry these days. Servicing is every 12 months or 10,000km (whichever comes first), but you can also opt for a capped-price servicing plan that runs for 12 years/120,000km. Five years of roadside assistance is available.

What’s the exterior like?

In PR-speak, “Nissan invites you to own the night”… what that translates to is a heap of black accents being added to the known styling. And to be fair, it does the trick, with the Midnight Edition offering meaningful flair to keep the Qashqai ageing gracefully. For a known design, the special edition adds on-road presence.

This is created via a Gloss Black V-motion grille, while the front and rear bumper blades and roof rails gain the same treatment. Darkened LED head (adaptive) and taillights feature, too, as well as body-coloured mouldings. The auto-folding wing mirrors gain gloss black, as do the 19-inch alloy wheels. 

There are five exterior colours to choose from and include Vivid Blue, Ivory Pearl, Gun Metallic, Magnetic Red and Pearl Black.

What’s the interior like?

Yes, you guessed it, the black theme continues inside, too. And in a mind-bending juxtaposition, brightens up the tried and tested Qashqai design in line with the exterior. Both gloss and brushed black accents abound, including a black roof headliner, as well as part leather/Alcantara seats and illuminated kick plates.

The benefit of the larger dimensions against the class norm (the Qashqai is 4394mm long, 1086mm wide, 1595mm tall and with a 2646mm wheelbase) is a spacious cabin. All five occupants enjoy generous head, leg and toe room front to back, with the back pews gaining a central armrest with cup holders when four-up.

Despite its almost range-topping status, the Midnight Edition misses out on heated front seats and power adjustment (even for the driver), as well as digital dual-zone climate control. Yet, overall, the styling tweaks give the ergonomically sound cabin a bit of a second wind. The new steering wheel is also a highlight, feeling nice in hand. 

What’s the infotainment like?

Updated for the current-gen model, the Qashqai gains a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen to handle the infotainment. It’s on the small side, meaning you have to be precise with your inputs and the graphics are dated. Still, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is DAB+ digital radio, which plays through a six-speaker audio system. The instrument cluster gains a 4.2-inch screen for features like the digital speedo.

Something left wanting, and a sign of the Qashqai’s 2014 ilk, is a lack of USB and USBC ports. There are none in the back, and just a single port is hidden in the centre storage bin. And there’s no wireless charging, either. The upcoming third-generation can’t arrive soon enough.

What is the storage like?

Given its ‘small’ SUV category designation, the Qashqai offers space some of the competition can’t match. The boot is 430 litres, extending to 1598 litres with the 60/40-split rear seats folded. There is a bit of a step up from the boot floor when the rear seats are stowed, however, the load bay is flat and the lip isn’t too intrusive when heaving in weighty/bulky items.

The centre console is endowed with a cavernous storage compartment and further bolstered by numerous provisions for cups, bottles, keys, wallets and sunglasses. Basically, there are a plethora of places to put a family’s worth of items.

What engines are available?

You can have any engine you want, as long as it’s a naturally aspirated four-cylinder. Its relatively large capacity does its best to mask a lack of torque compared to smaller, turbocharged units, with the 2.0-litre unit producing 200Nm. Combined with 106kW of power, the Midnight Edition offers ‘enough’ grunt to cope with the 1392kg kerb weight and fulfill its intended use… just.

Nissan Qashqai N-Sport engine

Within city limits the Qashqai operates amicably and the CVT is one of the better units on the market. Where it becomes strained is open-road overtaking, especially given power and torque are developed high in the rev range (6000 and 4400rpm respectively). The 2.0-litre four-pot sounds strained, too, as the CVT perches the tacho needle high in the rev range.

What about the fuel economy?

Officially the Qashqai Midnight Edition is rated at 6.9L/100km on a combined cycle. However, throughout testing the trip computer returned eights, even when pushing the oddly placed Eco mode button for frugal driving. It’s a shame some of the Nissan/Renault alliance turbo petrol and diesel engines offered in other markets aren’t available here.

What’s it like to drive?

All the controls are light, progressive and easy to use for the daily grind and family hauling. Driven within these parameters the Midnight Edition ticks boxes by being easy to live with. The brakes are strong and progressive, the steering is light for city car parks and the stepped-ratio CVT mimics a conventional torque-converter automatic with six ratios for a ‘manual mode’. The suspension tune leans towards the stiff side. However, the dampers offer enough control on rebound to prevent pogoing. Still, overall, it’s a bit too firm to be branded cosseting.

A somewhat interesting move is the fitment of Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres (225/45 front to rear) to the test car. It’s a lot of rubber for a humble SUV, especially given its usual performance-based applications. And while the sticky hoops offer the safety of heightened grip levels, it’s almost too much as the body struggles to match their competence, exacerbating the Qashqai’s roll. There’s also noticeable kickback and rack rattle through the steering wheel on poor surfaces.

How safe is the Qashqai?

The Qashqai range receives a five-star ANCAP safety rating, but it’s worth keeping in mind the score is carried over from the 2017 model year.

Nissan Intelligent mobility active-safety includes blind-sport warning, lane-departure warning, emergency braking (AEB), rear cross-traffic alert 360-degree surround view camera with parking sensors and intelligent driver alert. ISOFIX is fitted to the two outboard rear seats.

Sadly, given the price point, active cruise control, pedestrian/cyclist detection and lane keeping with steering intervention isn’t standard, you have to step up to the Ti for that.

What are the alternatives?

Many. So many, in fact, it’s hard to list them all, so here are some of the key combatants. The never-say-die Mitsubishi ASX which, despite its age, keeps brewing a sales storm. In terms of racking up sales accolades, it’s the Lewis Hamilton of the small SUV segment. Like the Qashqai, it offers a lot of physical car for the monetary outlay.

Others to consider are the not-so-small Kia Seltos, dynamically talented Toyota C-HR, pragmatic Honda HR-V and the ‘funky’ Hyundai Kona. The Skoda Kamiq and Volkswagen T-Roc offer Euro quality, while the Mazda CX-30 pairs dynamics with a premium cabin. The choice is seemingly endless in this burgeoning class.  

The bottom line

The Qashqai is a classic case of ‘the more you spend, the less sense it makes’. While the Midnight Edition jazzes things up a bit, there really isn’t much point extending into this price bracket. The metal-for-money equation that Nissan’s SUV does so well is no longer in its favour. At $28,290 (manual) and $30,290 (auto), the entry-level ST is about all the Qashqai you’ll ever need. The superior space and easy-to-live-with nature make it appealing to the masses.

So, while the Midnight Edition conjures visual delight and, somewhat out of character, offers grippy performance-orientated rubber, it isn’t the variant to buy. It’s also worth keeping in mind that a new Qashqai is, we’re told, around the corner.  



Price From $35,900+ORC Warranty Five years, unlimited km Safety Five-star ANCAP (2017) Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Power 106kW at 6000rpm Torque 200Nm at 4400rpm Transmission CVT Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4394mm (L) 1806mm (W) 1595mm (H) 2646mm (WB) Ground Clearance 188mm Boot Space 430-1598L Spare Space Saver Fuel Tank 65L Thirst 6.9L/100km (claimed combined)


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1 comment

  1. I drove an X-Trail CVT rental car from Sydney to Wagga. That was enough to convince me I couldn’t live with one. Not enough grunt in the engine for my liking. And it seemed as if pressing the accelerator did little more than increase engine noise. The way that CVTs work might have something to do with that sensation. I found the switch to make the CVT hold a set ratio and that X-Trail seemed a whisker quicker with a big rev.

    The Qashqai might be a quantum leap beyond the CVT X-Trail, but that rental X-Trail left me feeling very much against CVT transmissions. Give me an 8 speed torque convertor auto any day. And a diesel with 400nm sounds nice.

    Kia. Why not drop your Stinger V6 and 8 speed auto into one of your SUVs?

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