In Malaysia, the Nissan Serena is offered exclusively with the 2.0-litre S-Hybrid (Nissan’s term for mild hybrids) engine. In Japan, Nissan also offers another hybrid option for the Serena, the e-Power variant.
The e-Power unit uses a 1.2-litre three cylinder engine, sounds tiny for a such a large car but that’s the whole point. While the Serena S-Hybrid relies mostly on the 2.0-litre petrol engine, aided by 2.6 PS electric motor, the Serena e-Power’s priority is the opposite. It uses a much more powerful 136 PS motor, with the tiny 1.2-litre engine running only as a generator to keep the high voltage battery charged.
Within Nissan’s powertrain hierarchy, the e-Power ranked between the 2.0-litre S-Hybrid and the 2.0-litre full-hybrid used in more powerful cars like the Nissan X-Trail.
It’s a step-up from the mild hybrid S-Hybrid because e-Power is a full-hybrid, meaning that it is capable of accelerating from standstill in electric power alone.
In comparison, the Serena S-Hybrid’s tiny electric motor is only meant to assist the petrol engine, and is not powerful enough to drive the vehicle in electric power alone.
However, e-Power is a very basic type of full-hybrid, one that’s technically known as a series-hybrid (versus the X-Trail Hybrid’s more sophisticated parallel hybrid).
The term series hybrid here means that the petrol engine doesn’t drive the wheels and serves only as a generator to charge the high voltage battery.
Instead, it is the electric motor that is tasked to drive the wheels but at the same time, the Serena e-Power is not an electric vehicle because the petrol engine needs to keep running quite often to charge the batteries, and you can’t plug it in to be charged.
Apart from its low cost, a series hybrid setup doesn’t offer much benefits and few manufacturers use it anymore. Still, Nissan believes it’s good enough for city use and has rolled e-Power to the Serena and Note.
The Serena seen is a facelift of the current C27 generation Nissan Serena. Compared to the locally-assembled (at Tan Chong Motor’s Serendah plant) pre-facelift model that’s on sale in Malaysia, the most obvious difference on the new Nissan Serena is the new V-motion grille and head lights.
Inside, the cabin is mostly the same, apart from several e-Power model specific features (shift-by-wire gear knob) and Pro-Pilot driving aids, which we don’t get here. This being a Japanese market model, the infotainment is also different.