Nissan Serena E-Power Review (Updated 2020)

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Nissan’s new petrol-electric drive system comprises a gasoline combustion engine and an electric motor like any conventional hybrid, but with one huge difference in configuration.
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Introduction

A square-shaped vehicle that offers a twist. Sounds counter-intuitive? Not so much, as the Nissan Serena E-Power strives to prove. While it may be one of the most angular cars in town, it is also one of the coolest, thanks to a 100kW electric motor that powers the front wheels, that itself is powered by a lithium-ion battery that never runs dry.

The word E-Power already suggests that something new is pulling up on our roads. Nissan’s new petrol-electric drive system comprises a gasoline combustion engine and an electric motor like any conventional hybrid, but with one huge difference in configuration. The difference is that the engine charges the battery pack that drives the car’s front wheels, rather than driving the wheels itself.

Nissan Serena E-Power Exterior

The Nissan Serena E-Power, with it’s boxy dimensions, does not immediately seem all that appealing to look at. However, more often than not, that fact is overshadowed by its sheer size. Being almost 5 metres long, what the Nissan Serena lacks in elegance, it makes up for with its extremely imposing presence that causes it to stand out.

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A combination of practicality and presence

After all, the large boxy MPV is a traditional Japanese design that has its own charm and appeal, to a select group of consumers. While it is not conventionally attractive, there are still many drivers who appreciate this unconventional ride as they gravitate towards its practicality and presence.

In addition, there is a choice of a two-tone paint job that adds a bit of style and sportiness to the car. With this option, the roof is painted a cool “super black”, in contrast to the colour of the main body.

Nissan Serena E-Power Interior

Moving on to the interior, Nissan have given the Serena a sleek interior that looks extremely hi-tech. The use of metallic colours combined with stitched leather, a large center console and a modern looking dashboard display contribute to this feel. There are numerous storage spaces for all of your knicks and knacks, including one in front of the steering wheel that comes with a built-in USB port to charge your phone with.

With such a huge vehicle, one would expect lots of space in the cabin. The 2860mm-long wheelbase means that there is a lot of legroom for occupants, and its 1.4m interior height provides tons of headroom as well. Moreover, it is the seating that is one of the car’s highlights. Like any MPV, the Serena is a 7-seater. However, If your passengers prefer their own personal space, the second-row seats can be separated into individual seats rather than the usual combined seating. All in all, the Serena allows occupants to choose their preferred interior seating layout from 9 different configurations.

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Multiple interior configurations

The quietness of the cabin is another huge strength of this car. Even when the petrol engine is switched on, soundproofing features like damping material on the roof’s front side, front glass, front dash, hood and under the engine ensures serenity within the cabin. In fact, the low noise levels can even be compared to that of luxury models!

Nissan have also taken the initiative to add other smart features to the Serena for added convenience. The feet-operated sliding doors and dual opening rear tailgate facilitate the convenient loading and unloading of both passengers and cargo. Those with children will be relieved to know that the materials used, such as the stitched leather panels across the dashboard, are durable and resistant to abuse.

Nissan Serena E-Power Drivetrain

Now we arrive at the main attraction of the car: Nissan’s award-winning E-Power drivetrain. As stated in the introduction, it differs from a conventional hybrid as the petrol engine does not work in combination with the electric motor to drive the wheels. Rather, the engine only serves to charge the battery for the electric motor, which is the one that drives the wheels.

The E-Power drivetrain is equipped with several modes. On Quiet mode, the car operates on electric power for a distance of up to 3km. Switching to Charge mode enables the engine to run to charge the battery, although this may not be necessary since the car is designed to charge the battery on demand.

Both modes are only applicable when Smart or Eco mode is activated. The former maximises regenerative braking and acceleration while the latter is similar but reduces acceleration and performance for maximum eco-friendliness. There is also a Normal mode that reduces regenerative braking and allows the drive and performance to feel more normal.

Nissan Serena E-Power Performance

The Nissan Serena is in a league of its own when it comes to performance. It boasts a superior electric motor that gives you 100kW of power and 320 Nm of torque instantaneously, thanks to the electric motor. This allows for extremely quick acceleration from a standstill. For the most part, the petrol power plant is engaged. Only when going through light-road situations like crawling through a carpark is the engine dormant. If you wish, you can easily deactivate the engine by initiating the Quiet mode. As for range, the Serena distance of approximately 500km on a full tank which is more than many of its rivals.

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A luxurious, hi-tech interior

Ideally though, the car should be driven in Eco mode. This modet triggers Nissan’s One-Pedal Drive system, where the car automatically brakes and slows down as soon as you release the accelerator pedal, eliminating the need for an actual brake pedal. Doing so also puts the car into power recuperation mode. It is in this mode that you can opt for increased battery charging via a charge button on the dashboard. The regenerative braking system harnesses energy from braking to charge the battery even faster.

Despite its stocky frame and massive weight, Nissan’s new hybrid is surprisingly agile and drivable around corners, with acceptable amounts of body roll. Furthermore, the ride quality is not compromised at all, with the suspension nicely absorbing most bumps. Coupled with a luxurious, hi-tech interior, the Serena provides a genuinely pleasant ride for its passengers.

Nissan Serena E-Power Safety

Obviously, when you have a vehicle of this size, it is paramount to have some safety features in place for the wellbeing of the occupants as well as pedestrians. One of the main features is the Driver Attention Alert system that detects erratic driving caused by drowsiness or inattention. Using steering angle sensors, the system continuously monitors steering patterns and sounds an alert when it detects anomalies. It is even intelligent enough to factor in lane changes, braking and poor road conditions. This system is no doubt a lifesaver for those constantly worn out by children or work.

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Safety features are paramount in the Nissan Serena E-Power

Other safety systems available include the Intelligent Around View Monitor and Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians, as well as 6 airbags tucked away. Many parallel imported models of this kind lack some of these specifications, so Nissan has clearly one-upped their rivals when it comes to driver and passenger safety.

Summary

The Nissan Serena is one car that somehow manages to appeal to most, despite it’s boxy shape. It is a friend to all; drivers, family, kids and even the environment. Nissan’s own unique approach to electric cars has put it ahead of its competition. With its new hybrid system, it has a much longer driving range than its competition when running on battery power. Coupled with great power delivery, low noise levels and overall driver satisfaction, the Serena is undoubtedly a winner in the relatively new electric vehicle market.

Verdict

What we like
- Lots of headroom due to good height that makes it taller than most SUVs
- Decent drive given the heavier weight of the car
What we do not like
- Cruise control settings tend to reset the preset speed after some time
Editor’s recommendation
Recommended for big families that value space and do not want to overpay. The Nissan Serena is value for money MPV with plenty of room for six adults.

Nissan Serena E-Power Specifications

Power

100kW at 2985-9867rpm

Torque

320Nm at 0-2985rpm

Engine generator

1198cc 12valve inline-3

Transmission

Single-speed reduction

0-100km/h

12 seconds

Top speed 

145km/h

Fuel consumption

5.7litres/100km 

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