Let’s say you’re an up-and-coming sales executive, and you just got word that yet another child of yours was in the oven. You’ve bought the clothes, refurnished the smallest room in the house and sold off your nameless D-segment sedan for a decent coin to a trader named Sam. With money in hand, you’re ready to ply the new route as a family person with a comfortable, dependable MPV.
Trouble was, until recently there was a rather large chasm between the basic, utilitarian sub-RM100k people movers (Toyota Avanza and Innova, Nissan Grand Livina) and the posher European alternatives (Peugeot 5008, Volkswagen Cross Touran) costing upwards of RM150k – just a little too rich for both your blood and your wallet.
The respite came last year in the form of the Nissan Serena S-Hybrid – with duty exemptions afforded by its CBU hybrid vehicle status, it snuck in at just under the RM150k mark (since then, its biggest rival, the Mazda Biante, slotted into the market at around the same price). With the tax breaks set to end at the conclusion of 2013, however, many people wondered if its space in the marketplace would last.
Well, it has, and then some. Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) bit the bullet and assembled the now-facelifted S-Hybrid locally at its plant in Serendah to take advantage of the incentives the government continues to dole out for CKD hybrids. As such, the Serena is now even more affordable than before, but has the lower pricetag spoiled the car in any way? We drive it to Melaka and back to find out.