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the nissan serena s hybrid is now actually a hybrid somewhat

The Nissan Serena S-Hybrid is now actually a hybrid… somewhat

It also sacrifices seating for one to load captain chairs in the middle row

Dinesh Appavu Photo

Dinesh Appavu

14 May 2018

Nissan’s been relatively quiet here for a while because, well… they just don’t have a lot of popular models in their line-up but that tranquility was broken today for the launch of the new Nissan Serena S-Hybrid that’s finally an actual hybrid.

Assembled locally, it’ll be available in two trims. The Serena S-Hybrid Highway Star goes for RM135,500 while the Premium Highway Star adds in a little more equipment for RM147,500. The prices are on-the-road but not inclusive of insurance and comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and three years or 60,000km of free maintenance.

The engine is still the same MR20DD 2.0-litre direct-injected four-cylinder but isn’t a direct carryover as new dual-tensioner arms were fitted to reduce tension on the arm belt. It’s got a little more juice at 148hp and 200Nm of torque that goes through the Xtronic CVT to the front wheels.

Now onto the part where it’s finally befitting of the hybrid badge it sports. The starter motor is replaced with a 2.5hp/48Nm electric motor that controls the start-stop system and harvests energy during braking or deceleration to power the electricals of the MPV. That’s what we meant by somewhat.

Unlike the previous one that only harvested energy and operated the start-stop, this one now provides actual acceleration assistance from a standstill with a small 50Nm boost of torque for exactly one second. Yes, it ain’t much but at the very least it’s physically contributing to the movement of the vehicle. As the engine doesn’t have to be running for the electrics to operate when at a standstill, fuel consumption is a claimed 14.2km/litre on the European NEDC cycle.

Cosmetically, it looks like a much sharper and updated version of the previous one. Dual-tier headlights and a more distinctive grille lend it more presence up front and the blacked-out pillars hold up the floating roof that is further emphasised by the dual-tone colour scheme exclusive to the Premium Highway Star.

Nissan took the effort to make the interior more family-friendly and hospitable although they decided to ditch eight seats for seven to accommodate the captain chairs in the middle row. The chairs feature Zero Gravity tech for comfort and seven USB ports means all the phones can be charged. Occupants of the third row will appreciate the sliding function for more legroom or more boot space.

Things look a lot more premium inside with a stitched soft-touch dashboard and flat-bottomed steering wheel with controls. That centre console is especially classy, with a floating look and minimalist Clarion touchscreen head unit that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

A larger digital instrument cluster houses the rev counter, multi-info display and around-view monitor as well as the Intelligent Moving Object Detection (i-MOD).

Like the old model, both sliding doors are powered and have been improved with a handsfree operation that requires a kicking motion underneath to activate as well as buttons for the third row.

A new and much appreciated feature will be the split tailgate that can either be opened in full or just the glass portion at the top flipped up for easy access in tight spots.

LED headlights, foglamps all around, keyless entry, push-start and rear air-conditioning controls are standard, as are six airbags now. The additional money for the Premium Highway Star nets you larger 16-inch wheels, door visors, a roof-mounted flip LCD display, V-Kool security tinting and combination leather upholstery in either black or two-tone Truffle Brown and Chestnut.

Colours are Tungsten Silver, Diamond Black, Brilliant White and Cashmere Gold while the Premium Highway Star gets three two-tone exterior colour schemes that are the gold with an Imperial Umber roof and silver or white with a black roof.