Test drive: Nissan Serena S-Hybrid

By ahmadzulizwan, 02 July 2018

The Nissan Serena S-Hybrid has been called plenty of unpleasant names and we will not contest the reasons why. The shape just takes getting used to, but the MPV is made to do one thing: haul people. That usually means family and once the family is happy, how the Serena S-Hybrid looks take a backseat.

We’ve given this some thought and decided that in the Nissan’s favour, also, the competitors aren’t putting up a fight. And over time, the people have come to the conclusion that the Serena S-Hybrid shape has become its identity. It’s probably why it’s not too disappointing the new one looks much like the first-gen, admittedly sharper.

The best qualities remain, the twin-motorised sliding doors, second row captain seats, and the generous headroom. Wisely, Nissan added new features that just made the vehicle more sensible and practical. First, are its seven USB ports, the second being the dual-opening tailgate. The latter is immensely useful, particularly when you have plenty of stuff stored which may spill out if the entire tailgate is opened.

Serena S-Hybrid

A little side-note about those motorised doors – distributors Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) revealed that those doors and its mechanism has never failed, or at least first-gen Serena S-Hybrid owners have never come to them reporting a failure. Doesn’t matter, the motors that does the sliding action have been updated, while the mechanism reportedly looks more neat now.

Those USB ports may be overkill, but it’s the sort of excess a people carrier should have nowadays. Tarmac busting torque is low priority in comparison, certainly true of the YouTube and Instagram generation. Our Serena during the media drive was populated by four adults, almost all of them heavy internet users (being online portals). For that, there was a lot of demand for smartphone/tablet/GoPro etc. charging which never became a problem. For some seven USB charging ports may seem like a small thing, but never having to worry about not having enough is quite liberating.

Nissan Serena S-Hybrid

Speaking of power, it’s not the Serena S-Hybrid’s best quality although now it’s far better on the highway, holding the national speed limit with much more willingness. It seems more economical too, even if an average of high 11L/100km does make its Hybrid title questionable. On the plus side, it’s more composed than before and NVH is lower.

There’s easy access to the third row thanks to the 180mm of extra interior length and the bombastically named Zero Gravity Inspired seats for the second and first rows. Basically, they’re more comfortable, providing spinal support to reduce fatigue on long drives. Can’t say the seats look uniquely different from the millions we’ve sat on before, but they are comfortable.

It’s a vehicle one must get used to driving. The forward visibility is somewhat overwhelming, more so if the sun is shining bright. Luckily, the gigantic sunshade helps to ‘narrow’ the view.

The tech list has grown too as the MPV now comes with six airbags, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control, Intelligent Driver Alertness, Intelligent Moving Object Detection, and Intelligent Around View Monitor. Yes, there’s plenty to talk about the new Serena S-Hybrid. Good things. Not quite sure about the flat-bottomed steering wheel, however. But as the sole player in its niche – a 7-seater MPV hybrid with powered sliding doors – it can play with the rules however it likes.


Fuss-free, honest vehicle that delivers what it’s designed to do, and does it well.


  Engine   1,997cc, 4-cylinder, FWD, 150PS, 200Nm
  Price   RM135,000
  Fuel economy   7.0L/100km (claimed)
  Performance   NA