Soft99 Dark and Black Wax review: the paste from the past

The tin of Soft99 Black and Dark Car Wax resting on a car bonnet

by Ryan Gilmore |

Black cars rather rightfully have a reputation for not staying clean for very long. Sure they look menacing when freshly polished but tiny scratches and marring quickly rear their ugly heads. It's for that reason there's a surprisingly large selection of black car waxes for sale, all designed to mask those imperfections and deliver an unbeatable mirror-like finish.

Related: The best paint sealants for cars

Soft99's Dark and Black Wax is the brand's entry-level black car wax, sitting below the likes of its Fusso Coat and Kiwami Gloss Wax. Infused with natural carnauba it's a synthetic paste wax designed to offer up to two months of hydrophobic protection and enhance the glossiness of dark and black cars. Soft99 claim it's easy to use and it's an affordable and effective way of keeping dark cars looking their best. Bold claims from a paste wax.

Step one: grab your screwdriver

A key theme that runs through this product is retro. This wax was introduced in 1984 and has received minimal changes since then. The packaging for example is an old-fashioned metal tin finished in black and complete with Japanese Kanji scrawled across it.

There's a slightly cheap-feeling plastic lid to remove but the actual lid that keeps the wax in place is a metal plate held in place like the lid of a paint can. You'll need a screwdriver or sturdy key to lever the lid away and access the tin. It's a fairly crude solution, but it does mean re-sealing the wax is possible, extending its life.

This nostalgia trip continues once the lid is removed. There, finished in pale green is the wax that smells like paint thinner. It's a solvent-rich wax which means it's both highly flammable and could be potentially dangerous should it be used in confined spaces, an important factor to bear in mind when it comes to where you apply the product.

Soft99 even has the good grace to include a yellow sponge applicator as standard. It's fine if you've nothing else to hand but compared to a denser foam or microfibre option it's heavy, cumbersome and simply not nice to use. More annoyingly however, the wax doesn't ship with a complementary microfibre buffing towel. An effective towel is required to help ensure the best possible finish and coverage.

The application was really enjoyable thanks largely to the waxes construction. It was relatively soft and spread well on the panels, even with the miserable sponge applicator. It hazed up well too, producing an obvious layer of wax that cured relatively quickly. Buffing too was a delight, the wax was light on the panel and any excess lifted away with ease.

I can see my face in that...

Nothing looks as good as a properly waxed black car and the Soft99 delivered on that with perhaps a really deep, almost mirror-like shine to the paintwork. Small scratches and swirls were expertly filled in with the small fillers present in the wax which helped add to the gloss. Those fillers also made the paintwork feel like glass, with no uneven bumps present at all. While this may sound silly, it does show how effective the wax is at filling small scratches.

The freshly waxed look lasted well too, beading water straight off when it rained and losing none of the shine. After a weekend the VW Up! test car's Deep Black Pearl paintwork still looked like polished onyx. I don't doubt the hydrophobic qualities will last, and the finish looks fairly promising too.

Any downsides?

The main drawbacks of the wax can all be linked back to its age. It's a nearly 40-year-old product and product refinement has come a long way in that time. The offensive smell is the worst part, it's the first wax I've tested where the drowsiness warning felt like a genuine concern. The outdated sponge applicator wasn't up to much either compared to a modern microfibre example.

Some may find this endearing in the same way a Lada Niva or wearing tweed is. Those small quirks and eccentricities are cool for a short period of time, but they'll always shift into long-term annoyances.

The other big problem with the Black and Dark Wax was the fact it offers only eight weeks of protection. Powerful spray waxes have better durability than this paste wax, and they take way less time and effort to apply. That deep shine may be almost unbeatable, but for it to only last a few weeks is a poor show.

Price and competition

There's not much that directly compares to this wax, most good waxes explicitly designed for black cars start at almost twice the price of the Soft99. The formula, although a little retro in nature, is plentiful and the claimed 30 applications from the 300g tin is fairly believable based on our testing, depending on the size of your car obviously. Although you'll also need to factor in the cost of buying a decent applicator and buffing towel.

The closest black wax is Car Gods Black Diamond Wax, a liquid wax designed to restore, pigment and protect black paint. It's a liquid wax so will be easier to apply but the strong black pigments will leave stains if you're not careful. In terms of paste waxes, the closest option is Poorboy's World Natty Paste Wax, a solid choice but a lot more expensive.

Verdict

Soft99's Black and Dark car wax is certainly interesting. An old formula that's stood the test of time and still delivers an excellent shine to dark cars. A product that also has problems that no modern wax suffers from, namely an appalling solvent smell and a useless sponge applicator.

The biggest problem though is longevity. Manually waxing a car for only eight weeks of protection is a lot of effort for little reward, even if the black paint is really glossy. If it lasted a little longer like many other synthetic paste waxes can it'd score higher. If you're insistent on buying a paste black car wax, Fusso Coat lasts 12 months and is worth the extra cash.

3.5/5

Pros Cons
• Flawless black finish • Won’t last very long
• Easy to use• It stinks
Specifications
Capacity 300g
Durability Two months
Suitable for ‎Black cars
Extras Sponge applicator

More items to consider:

How we tested it:

We followed the printed instructions on the tin and prepared a black car by washing it first. We used the supplied applicator and left the wax for the recommended time before buffing it with a proper buffing towel. The car was then used as normal afterwards and inspected for its gloss and protective durability.

Other products used in this test: Soft99 Creamy pH Neutral Wax | Duel Autocare Buffing Towel | Kärcher K3 Power Control

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