And so after more than a year of intense industry speculation, Perodua or P2 as is commonly known in local circles, has finally pulled the plug and laid to rest all speculation to reveal the Bezza, the first ever sedan to roll out of the country’s most successful local automotive player’s production plant. Not to be confused with any Japanese derivative, the Bezza is an all-local effort, based off the Axia platform, developed in-house at the tune of RM300m no less.

Coming in with both guns blazing, the Bezza is set to take on the competition with everything it’s got, starting with a 3-cylinder, 1-liter 1KR-VE VVT-i engine with Manual transmission all the way up to a 4-cylinder, 1.3-liter 1NR-VE Dual VVT-i engine with a 4-speed automatic tranny. A total of 5 variants and 6 color choices await potential owners, who are really spoiled for choice, in addition to the special Perodua Gear Up accessory package that will surely make their Bezza ownership truly personal and unique.

In a move that set tongues wagging way before it was officially launched, the intentions of Perodua to stake a claim in the hotly contested compact sedan category certainly had every significant mass market automaker in the country in tenterhooks. If it wasn’t bad enough that they had successfully cornered the compact non-sedan segment and had the public eating out of their hands, they were now going to make a play for the market at large. Said market at large happens to be the most lucrative segment of the Malaysian auto industry; the affordable compact sedan segment whose crown was traditionally held by Proton since time immemorial. Does the Perodua Bezza have what it takes to unseat the incumbent? Read on.

Perodua Bezza: Design

2016 Perodua Bezza Advance_6 2016 Perodua Bezza Premim 9 2016 Perodua Bezza Premim 4 2016 Perodua Bezza Premim X_2 2016 Perodua Bezza Premim X

There are many subtle hues of the Axia present in the Bezza; after all, they are literally two peas from the same proverbial pod. Having said that, Perodua has done truly extensive differentiation to make the Bezza stand out so as to carve a niche for itself. The frontage is pleasingly proportionate, i.e., the headlights are sized just right for it’s A-segment pedigree, while the rest of the fascia are tastefully done without any element overbearing upon another.

From the side though, things get a little dangerously Almera-esque. The frontal overhang is just nice and taut, but the rear overhang is a tad too long and getting close to the white ant syndrome suffered by the Almera. In its quest to achieve best in class luggage space, Bezza’s designers pulled the tailgate a little too far out in my opinion. Thankfully, Perodua’s Gear Up bodykit package helps to even things out a fair bit. Do check out our gallery for shots of the kit and judge for yourself.
Around the back, the tailgate design is unlike any that we’ve ever seen before in a Perodua, in a good way. For a company that has never built a sedan, I’d have to say the rear proposition is not too bad and quite eye-catching too, with its light bar elements taking center stage within the tail light cluster. If I may say so, the rear design reminds me of a certain other local stunning favorite B sedan, whose name escapes me at the time of writing.

Overall, there are more positives than negatives in terms of the Bezza’s outlook. Here’s a car that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, yet manages to look quite decent enough (and sporty with Gear Up), and certainly decent enough to rival what’s on offer out there.

Perodua Bezza: The Party’s Inside

The top of the line Bezza Advance gets a whole host of goodies usually found in higher segment cars, and usually from non-national marques. Dual VVT-i and Eco Idle (idle stop) join VSC (vehicle stability control), front passenger seat belt alert (standard models only come with driver seat alert), keyless entry and push start system, remote trunk release, leather upholstery and a touch screen multimedia navigation unit with reverse camera. Said multimedia unit is also Mirror Link capable. Simply wow. This is quite a lot of kit for a car costing just a tad above 51 Grand.

Seating is ample for 4 full-sized adults, and will fit a 5th passenger in a pinch. Sharing an identical platform with the Axia means the Bezza has a cabin that’s exactly the same width and height as that of the Axia, but having sat in both I must say the sedan has a slight edge over the hatch in terms of rear comfort, thanks to the overall length of the former. Part of the reason for this cavernous interior trapping lies in very slim door trims and seats designed to maximize space at the slight cost of ride comfort and noise. However, all is not lost as Perodua’s Gear Up Driving Comfort package comes with noise deadening materials for the bonnet and door panels.

The multimedia head unit in the top spec Bezza Advance is quite a nice addition to the interior proposition as it serves as an attractive centerpiece to complement the excellent piano black trim on the dashboard, as well as adding a level of sophistication as opposed to the very standard looking manual air-conditioning controls underneath. Said head unit also perfectly synergizes with the remote controls on the leather clad steering wheel.

Elsewhere, useful pockets and cubby holes pepper the cabin so no complaints there, and just as well there are very useful hooks for when you feel the need to buy takeaways. There’s also a very lady friendly secure handbag strap lock at the side of the front passenger seat with which to securely fasten your handbag strap, so in the event some druggie on a moped manages to break through the original Perodua security window film and makes a play for your bag, it would take tremendous effort to snap off the strap and snatch it. You are well advised to buy a handbag with a really strong strap though.

Perodua Bezza: Fun Under The Hood

2016 Perodua Bezza Advance_2 2016 Perodua Bezza_7 2016 Perodua Bezza_8 2016 Perodua Bezza Advance

I am going to be a bit blunt here. Forget about the 1.0-liter, it’s not much fun to drive, in spite of the Bezza’s featherweight class. Having said that, I am quite sure 67hp @ 6,000rpm and 91Nm @ 4,400rpm is just about adequate for the 865kg Bezza Standard G 5MT (base manual model), if driven alone or with just one passenger, but if you plan to bring everyone and the kitchen sink along on a trip to Genting Highlands you’re well advised to shell out a bit more for the 1.3-liter Bezza Premium X or Advance, which has a much better power to weight ratio in spite of its slightly heavier kerb mass of 930kg. This new 1.3-liter 1NR-VE Dual VVT-i powerplant puts out a healthy 94hp @ 6,000rpm and 121Nm @ 4,000rpm which means it has a mind-blowing 40% more power to move a mere 7.5% more mass. Jumping 30% in cubic capacity from 1,000cc to 1,300cc nets you 40% more power? This is the stuff of legends I tell ya.

Having said that, the 1.0-liter 3-cylinder 1KR-VE VVT-i powerplant is all new (compared to the Axia’s), sporting a higher compression ratio, enhanced smoothness and better intake management. The 1.3-liter 4-cylinder 1NR-VE Dual VVT-i on the other hand, has variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valves, Teflon-coated cylinder walls, improved water-cooling sleeves and revised combustion chambers designed to better optimize combustion. Notably, in real world driving I found the 1.3-liter Bezza to be very hardworking and rev-happy, and considerably smoother than the lower compression engine in a Myvi 2014.

Other notable mentions include one of the slickest Cd values for a budget sedan (0.286) and a revised 4-sp automatic transmission that now features enhanced torque-converter lock up range in third and fourth gears as well as increased fuel cutoff during vacuum conditions (throttle off and deceleration). For the Bezza Advance, Eco Idle (idle stop) with regenerative braking further adds to the Bezza’s list of fuel economy tools, earning the car EEV (Energy Efficient Vehicle) status without breaking a sweat.

Naturally, the claimed 22km/l fuel efficiency mark of the Bezza Advance can’t possibly be achieved in real world applications, but suffice to say that one could easily achieve 16km/l or better in mixed urban conditions using just RON95 Euro 2M. I daresay you might achieve even better consumption using RON97 Euro 4M, especially for the just adequate 1.0-liter variants.

Read further about the Perodua Bezza in part two of the review…