Nearly three years after the facelifted Nissan Serena went on sale in Japan, the car has finally landed in Malaysia. The refreshed MPV was launched in Mid Valley Megamall this morning, bringing some welcome updates to the C27 – particularly on the safety side.

Those improvements come with a sizeable hike in the prices, although they now include the sales and service tax (SST). As before, the Serena is available in two variants, both with the mild S-Hybrid powertrain – the Highway Star retails at RM149,888 on-the-road without insurance, while the Premium Highway Star with some additional accessories goes for RM162,888.

Compared to the previous model before the SST exemption, the new Serena is RM17,000 more expensive in Highway Star form and RM18,000 more as the Premium Highway Star (the latter is against the old two-tone package variant, which now comes standard). A five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty is included with the purchase, with early bird customers also getting five times free parts and labour for every alternate service.

No matter which version you go for, you get an unchanged MR20DD 2.0 litre direct-injected four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 150 PS at 6,000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. It’s mated to an Xtronic CVT and a 1.8 kW (2.6 PS) electric motor that provides 48 Nm of accelerative boost when needed, with drive sent to the front wheels. Combined fuel consumption is rated 14.2 km per litre on the NEDC cycle.

The exterior redesign is dominated by a distinctive full-height V-motion grille that stretches all the way down to the centre air intake – replete with chrome “dashes” that Nissan claims gives the car a jewel-like look. Lower down, the L-shaped inserts on the corners of the front bumper are larger and more aggressive, and these are repeated at the rear of the car.

The lamp units have also been revised – the split headlights come with a chrome instead of body-coloured strip, flowing neatly into the massive grille. They are also now bi-LED with new reflector and projector units, and they come with “eyebrow” LED positioning lights. Completing the look are unique LED tail lights (the brake lights are also now LED) that curve outwards, giving the rear end a wider look.

As before, the Serena comes with plain silver 15-inch alloy wheels as standard, with the Premium Highway Star gaining the same 16-inch rollers, now finished in black. The higher-spec model also gets a black roof as standard – it was optional before, and the Cashmere Gold paint was paired with a brown roof instead. Speaking of which, the colour options have shrunk to just four and include Brilliant White, Diamond Black, Tungsten Silver and Radiant Red, the last of which is exclusive to the Premium Highway Star.

Inside, revisions are limited to minor trim changes and new graphics for the seven-inch colour instrument display in the centre, although the segmented LED speedometer remains in front of the driver. The seven seats are still upholstered in black fabric as standard, but the Premium Highway Star gains quilted Nappa leather for the first time, available in either black or brown.

Elsewhere, the 6.75-inch infotainment touchscreen has been bumped up to a nine-inch unit on the Premium Highway Star, still with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. That variant’s rear roof-mounted monitor has also grown in size from 10.1 inches to 11.6 inches.

Passengers continue to sit in sliding captain’s chairs on the second row and a three-abreast third-row bench (resulting in a 2-2-3 seating configuration) that tips up to fold; they plug into no fewer than seven USB ports (three in front). You also still get dual-zone automatic climate control – one zone for the front, the other for the second and third rows, the latter adjustable via the same ceiling-mounted control panel.

The rest of the standard equipment is mostly identical and includes keyless entry, push-button start, manually-adjustable Zero Gravity front and second-row seats, a 360-degree camera system with Moving Object Detection (MOD), six-speakers, hands-free power-sliding doors on either side and a manual tailgate with a separately-opening rear windscreen section. Auto-folding door mirrors have been added to the list.

Step up to the Premium Highway Star and you’ll continue to gain door visors, LED interior lighting and a “Tech On” mat for the second-row folding tray tables, along with new additions such as V-Kool window tint and front and rear dash cams. All the top spec’s extras are optional on the Highway Star except for the black roof, wheels, head unit and leather upholstery.

The aforementioned big step up in safety is the inclusion of driver assistance systems like autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and a driver attention warning on all models. Malaysia remains one step behind Japan, losing out on the latter’s optional ProPilot semi-autonomous driving function – but hey, progress is still progress. Six airbags, stability control and second-row ISOFIX child seat anchors are still standard fitment.

The facelifted Nissan Serena S-Hybrid can be had with interest rates starting from 1.99% per annum with Edaran Tan Chong Motor’s (ETCM) Green Financing. Buyers can also place a booking online on the company’s Lazada store for a lower fee. Browse full specifications and equipment on CarBase.my.