Qashqai (no U) replaced the Dualis back in 2006 as Nissan’s offering in the small SUV section of the market, and sits between the odd looking Juke and stalwart X-Trail.
The name is apparently derived from the nomadic herders known as Qashqai who live in mountainous Central and Southwestern Iran, not that most people would have any idea where that is.
Whoever thought Qashqai was a good idea for a name deserves a bloody medal because it has certainly stuck and more importantly is instantly identifiable with the brand.
In keeping with the current vogue for black coloured vehicles, the Midnight Edition acquires a fistfull of black bits and bobs, along with other upgrades that place it between the mid-grade ST-L and top of the line Ti models.
What’s it cost?
Prices start from $28,290 for the entry ST with manual transmission.
Midnight, at $35,900, sits between the $34,300 ST-L and $38,790 Ti, while keeping company with the N-Sport at $35,000.
They’re all equipped with the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with drive to the front wheels and a CVT-style automatic transmission — apart from the aforementioned ST.
Standard fare includes manual air conditioning and seats trimmed in a combination of suede and leather, although the fine print also mentions part use of the fake stuff.
There’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, built-in satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth and voice recognition, keyless entry and start, electric park brake, cruise control, 360-degree forward and reverse cameras, front and rear park sensors, auto-on lights and wipers, auto high beam and darkened LED headlights that track the road at night.
With a name like Midnight, one could be forgiven for thinking it comes only in black — but there are in fact five body colours from which to choose.
A gloss black signature V-shaped grille sets it apart from siblings, complemented by body-coloured front and rear bumpers and side mouldings, all with gloss black inserts.
The side mirrors and roof rails are are also finished in gloss black.
Underpinning the look are 19-inch, aerodynamically tuned, Black Wind alloy wheels, fitted with 225/45 low-profile tyres.
Then there’s illuminated Qashqai door sills, brushed black accents across the dashboard and door trims, black headliner and air vents in gloss black too.
Black leather accents are also used on the steering wheel, shift knob and gearshift surround.
Five-star safety incorporates Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Intelligent Driver Alert.
What’s it go like?
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine is is good for 106kW and 200Nm, the latter at 4400 revs.
It’s paired with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT-style auto which the company claims uses 10 per cent less fuel than comparable transmissions.
You can change gears manually using the gear selector, but it doesn’t come with steering wheel mounted change paddles.
There’s Eco mode to reduce fuel consumption, but alas no sport mode unfortunately.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Nissan’s CVT, but whatever they’ve done to improve the thing since the last time — it actually works.
This is the least CVT-like CVT I’ve driven in many a moon, I thought, as the car charged forward, changing gears just like a regular auto, with a discernible change points and a drop off in revs between each change.
It reminds me of Subaru’s excellent CVT.
With peak power and torque unavailable until higher in the rev range, don’t expect miracles.
At the same time, performance will be more than satisfying for most and it gets our tick of approval.
Suspension is all-independent, with multi-link at the rear, and front and rear stabiliser bars.
The ride is smooth, in fact unexpectedly smooth considering it runs 19s, which in our test vehicle were shod with Dunlop Sportmax rubber.
However, we found the steering rather heavy in comparison to other cars we’ve driven recently, including the new and much larger Kia Carnival people mover.
Otherwise Qashqai is smooth, quiet inside, reasonably comfortable and delightfully easy to drive.
The interior is starting look a little dated, however, especially the dash with its analogue dials and an inset touchscreen — and it’s a shame it misses out on adaptive cruise control.
Note too, lane departure warning does just that, it only issues a warning if the driver strays from the straight and narrow — it doesn’t actively steer you back into the lane.
Rear legroom is a bit tight and the smallish boot hides a space saver spare.