There's a reason why it is such a hit among Malaysian families
After many quiet months, Edaran Tan Chong Motor unveiled the new and improved Nissan Serena S-Hybrid a couple of months ago, featuring a tweaked exterior design as well as many new features with the aim of making it a better product overall.
Available in two variants - the Serena S-Hybrid Highway Star (RM149,888) and the Serena S-Hybrid Premium Highway Star (RM162,888), the version which we sampled is the range-topping Premium model, which comes with the full list of bells and whistles.
On the exterior, the Serena S-Hybrid now features a redesigned front end which comprises a pair of dual projector LED Headlamps, a more striking v-motion front grille, a new front bumper with integrated fog lamps and daytime running lights at each corner, a new rear bumper with gloss black finishing, as well as a set of redesigned LED tail lights.
Compared to the outgoing version, there is no denying the fact that the new Serena S-Hybrid looks more handsome. The new V-motion grille does not only grab your attention from a mile away, but also gives the MPV a much classier appearance.
In addition, the two-tone body colour and the blacked out wheels give it a touch of sportiness which makes the MPV look a tad more youthful than the outgoing version.
Complementing the improved exterior appearance is a cabin that also looks quite plush, thanks to the generous dose of stylish Nappa leather upholstery that is exclusive to the Premium variant here.
As visually appealing as the cabin is, the level of comfort and convenience is also mighty impressive. Thanks to the height of the seats, you just slide in and out into the first two rows, making it easy and effortless for occupants like older folks for instance, to get in and out of the vehicle.
Only the third row seats require some effort to get in as you have to squeeze past the second row seats, but since the second row seats can slide forward, backwards, and from side to side, even that becomes easier.
Speaking of the third row, these seats can be folded up and tucked away to make space for big objects like bicycles, which is a big plus.
Up front, taking centrestage in front is the new 9-inch touch screen infotainment system which now supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MP3, Bluetooth, as well as voice command.
While the driver and co-driver get the 9-inch screen, the rear occupants get an 11.6-inch LCD panel that folds down from the ceiling, which allows the rear passengers to enjoy movies or other AV entertainment while on the move. For parents with restless kids, this feature is a big, big plus point.
Design tweaks aside, the folks at Nissan have also added soundproofing liners to the rear wheel housing in order to surpress the level of noise, vibration, and harshness and deliver a quieter, more serene experience for all passengers.
Another strength of the Serena S-Hybrid is how much space it has for occupants to store their things. Believe it or not, there are seven storage compartments in front itself. At the rear, the foldable tables with integrated cupholders are a blessing in disguise when you embark on road trips.
On top of all of these, features like the powered sliding doors with retractable sunshades, the seat-mounted USB ports, the space between the seats which enable the occupants to move from one row to another, the roof-mounted air vents, a dedicated control panel for the rear air conditioning, and the 6-speaker audio system make the Serena S-Hybrid Premium such a practical and enjoyable vehicle to be in.
Another cool feature is the split-folding tailgate that makes loading and unloading objects into the luggage space a walk in the park.
Unlike most MPVs which require you to open the whole tailgate every time you want to load or unload, you can just open one half of the tailgate with minimal effort whenever you want to put or take a small sized object out of the boot.
Mechanically, the Serena S-Hybrid remains unchanged as power comes from the same powertrain package as before, which includes the MR20DD 2.0 litre direct-injected four-cylinder petrol engine that is paired with an Xtronic CVT, producing 150 PS and 200 Nm of torque.
There is also an electric motor that produces 48 Nm of accelerative boost when needed, which is a big plus point when you're travelling with six occupants and a boot full of things.
The motor ensures that there is always enough power regardless of whether you're alone, or with your whole family. And then we have the huge windows, the DVR, and the surround view monitor, which ensure that visibility is at the highest level at all times.
Where safety is concerned, the Serena comes equipped with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and a driver attention warning as standard. This is of course, on top of the six airbags, stability control and ISOFIX child seat anchors.
That being said, even though the Serena S-Hybrid carries over the same powertrain, it is still an enjoyable vehicle to pilot.
Now that the MPV is quieter thanks to the improved sound insulation, safer with all the new driver assistance features, and more practical with the improved infotainment system, it meets all the requirements of someone who is looking for a well-equipped family-oriented vehicle.
Plus, the Premium variant here adds a touch of sportiness, and looks tad more "high-class" now with the Alphard-inspired LED headlights, the two-tone paint job, and the black wheels.
So, if you're in the market for a well-equipped, safe, and practical MPV for your family for under RM170,000, the Serena S-Hybrid Premium Highway Star ticks all the boxes, making it arguably the best choice in its class.
2022 Nissan Serena S-Hybrid review
*This review was brought to you by Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd