What is it?
WHAT does the term ‘black wind’ suggest?
Followers of the US election might have thought it had something to do with Rudy Giuliani’s flatulence during a senate inquiry, while others might see it as a cloud of black dust emanating from newly-ploughed farmland.
There are endless possibilities.
But dedicated Nissan followers know it’s the name of the new 19-inch black alloy wheels fitted to one of the latest Qashqai — the one called Midnight.
What’s it cost?
There are several models to choose from, all using the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, but only the base ST, at $28,290, has the option of a manual gearbox.
The rest all get a CVT.
The Midnight, at $35,900, sits between the $34,000 ST-L, and the $38,790 Ti.
Qashqai is an attractive, compact SUV, that easily fit into the average garage and is an easy to drive, family-friendly machine that, unlike the big truck-based SUVs, doesn’t threaten the world’s fuel supply.
Those black wheels, by the way, also contribute to fuel economy with their innovative design that minimises wind resistance.
The Midnight model might have had the All Black rugby team in mind with its blackness.
There’s gloss black on the grille, the mirror caps, roof rails, front and rear bumper blades, lower body side mouldings, and, yes, those alloy wheels.
To further assure owners or onlookers of its identity, there’s a chromed badge on the tailgate that reads: Midnight.
You can even have an entirely black Midnight, with Pearl Black among the paint finishes.
Question is, how would you find it in the dark?
Other available shades are Vivid Blue, Ivory Pearl, Magnetic Red and Gun Metallic.
And guess what colour the interior is?
The Qashqai is a pretty much complete package.
Standard fare includes aircon, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satnav, digital radio, Bluetooth and voice recognition, keyless entry and start, electric park brake, cruise control, 360-degree, forward and reverse cameras, auto-on lights and wipers and LED headlights that light up corners at night.
The seats are in a mix of premium Alcantara suede and leather and the illuminated entry kick plates remind you it’s a Qashqai.
What’s it go like?
Inside, Qashqai’s got more space than one would imagine, and that holds good for driver, passengers, storage and cargo.
There’s ample head and legroom front and rear, plus a deep central bin, generously sized door pockets, glovebox, cup holders and the 430-litre boot can be expanded to a massive 1600 litres by lowering the split-fold seatbacks.
The doors open wide and the seats have a high hip point, making it easy to get in and out of the vehicle, a major factor in car buying among older folk.
The four-pot motor is good for 106kW and 200Nm.
Be sure to have a good feed of Weeties if you want to check the oil, water, or anything else in the engine bay because the bonnet weighs a tonne.
You have to hold it up with one hand while freeing the attached stay with the other.
It’s a job for Charles Atlas, or Wonder Woman.
Suspension is by independent struts and a stabiliser bar in front, while an independent multi-link system takes care of the tail.
The vehicle comes with some very good footwear too: 225/45 Michelin Pilot Sport 4s, no less, the kind of tyres you’d be happy to see on something like a 370Z — but their inclusion on the Midnight is a very pleasant surprise.
However, while they add stability and Tarzan’s grip through the corners, the low profile tyres on the big wheels might not be so wonderful over those annoying speed bumps in car parks or on corrugated roads.
The spare wheel is of the space-saver type, under the boot floor.
Performance is fine, with a smooth squirt to 100km/h in about 10.5 seconds and the CVT does an okay job, though it takes a tad longer than expected if a rapid increase in speed is needed, such as when overtaking Sleepy Joe and his caravan on a country road.
The car is quite frugal in its fuel needs. Official number is 6.9L/100km combined, and we were happy with the 7.8 recorded on our mix of road and traffic conditions.
Naturally, it comes with the full quota of electronic driver aids, and for what it’s worth, has a five-star crash safety rating.
As well, it gets a five-year unlimited distance warranty and capped service costs.
What we like?
- Build quality
What we don’t like?
- Weighty bonnet
The bottom line?
Qashqai is a friendly, easy-to-drive and spacious good looker with civilised manners.
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Nissan Qashqai Midnight Edition, priced from $35,990
- Looks - 8.5/108.5/10
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Safety - 8/108/10
- Thirst - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Comfort - 8/108/10
- Tech - 7.5/107.5/10
- Value - 8/108/10