Although there was much publicity about the all-new Nissan Serena S-HYBRID over the past month, it had not actually been launched. Test-drives were available and bookings accepted, resulting in around 1,300 orders being collected by today, the official launch day.

The new MPV is the fourth generation of the nameplate which began in the early 1990s. As with its predecessors, the new Serena S-HYBRID has been assembled in Malaysia since the first generation. In its latest form, it is available in two versions – Premium Highway Star and Highway Star, with the former receiving more bookings at the moment. Pricing, as always with products from Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM), is attractive, more so for a MPV of this size class. Excluding insurance premiums, the Premium Highway Star is priced from RM147,500 and the Highway Star from RM135,500.

Right now, there will be hesitation on the part of car-buyers to commit to purchase with the impending removal of the 6% GST (Goods & Services Tax) and the re-introduction of SST (Sales & Sales Tax), which is computed differently. When GST was introduced in 2015, prices dipped a bit so there is speculation that SST may push them up again but it also depends on the amount of tax applied. The new government has not indicated when the change will take place although the car companies want it done as quickly as possible as it affects business.

ETCM has decided to offer a price protection scheme which will give buyers assurance that if they buy at the current listed price and the new SST brings prices down, they will be refunded the difference.

Conversely, if SST caused the prices to rise, they will of course not have to pay the difference, having already made their purchase, and they would benefit. So if you like the Serena S-HYBRID, go ahead and order it since you won’t lose either way.

Incidentally, Motor Image, which sells Subaru vehicles, has also announced a similar scheme of refunding the difference, should the prices be lower after the switch of tax.

If both your hands are holding things, you can still open the sliding doors using your foot.

We’ve already described the new Serena S-HYBRID in detail earlier, and you can read the article here. Highlights of the latest model are the powered sliding side doors which can open and close by just sticking a foot under the sills, split rear door which is more convenient, and Intelligent Around View Monitor (i-AVM) which gives a simulated overhead view of the MPV and areas around it. There is also Nissan Intelligent Object Detection which is integrated in the i-AVM and alerts the driver when moving objects (usually humans) are on any of the sides of the vehicle. Seven USB ports are also provided, so there will be no need to use powerbanks or long cables.

Intelligent Around View Monitor gives a simulated overhead view around the MPV. There is also Nissan Intelligent Object Detection which is integrated in the i-AVM and alerts the driver when moving objects (usually humans) are on any of the sides of the vehicle.

On paper, the overall cabin length is slightly longer and wider and the overall ambience is more premium now. The front seats have the Nissan-developed ‘Zero Gravity’ design to reduce fatigue and enhance comfort while the second row are now ‘Captain’ seats. There are only two such seats while the third row can accommodate three persons, so the new Serena is now a 7-seater.

The powertrain is basically the same as before with a 2-litre MR20DD petrol engine that has continuously variable valve timing on the inlet and exhaust sides. Improvements to the engine have resulted in a 13% gain in fuel economy with the claim of 14.2 kms/litre. As before, an XTronic CVT is fitted.

What differs it from conventional engines is the presence of a small electric motor which operates in the early stages of moving off. By giving assistance at this stage when the load is high, the demand on engine power can be reduced so less fuel will be burnt. The extra torque also enhances acceleration, something that will be appreciated considering that a MPV of this size is heavy. Also helping in performance and fuel-saving is a new Dual Arm Tensioner which has lower tension on the arm belt.

Besides the 5-year/unlimited mileage warranty, there is a 3-year (or maximum of 60,000 kms) Maintenance Service promotion offered as part of the launch campaign. Additionally, the first 500 vehicles registered will come with a free Terzo Portable Cooler Box by PIAA (worth RM500).

Bryna Au will be joining a media drive to Penang with the new Serena S-HYBRID this week so we’ll have a test-drive report for you in due course.

In the meantime, if you want to locate a showroom to check out the new Nissan MPV, visit www.nissan.com.my.

[Chips Yap]

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