Perodua Bezza: Sedan Alternative of Choice

By Lee Pang Seng

IT WAS a matter of time before Perodua was going to introduce a sedan model to try for a bigger slice of the market. More Malaysian car owners somehow prefer the sedan more than the hatchback even though Perodua held its own since it started in 1996 with its range of hatchbacks to even outsell its closest rival Proton in recent years.

That the market was ready for a Perodua sedan was obvious from the fact that more than 20,000 cars were spoken for since its July launch. The loyal followers that had subscribed to its hatchback motoring all this while was more than happy to have a sedan choice made available to them, with reasonable prices to boot.

The hoopla might have faded some by the time we got our hands on a Bezza for a few days but it was a drive impression that we would like to have a first-hand experience of. Perodua chose to provide us with the top model, the Bezza Advance, which came well equipped and for which a premium price was asked. There are five models, these being the 1.0-lire Standard G with five-speed manual and four-speed electronically controlled automatic, 1.3-litre Premium X (manual and automatic) and the 1.3-litre Advance ( automatic only).

Being the owner of a Perodua Alza and Kenari, we might be a little biased but we are happy with what we have and our impression of the Bezza was to gauge whether this carmaker’s first sedan model would cut it with a satisfied Perodua owner. Or more to the point, if we were in the market for an affordable sedan, would we consider a Bezza.

Firstly, we find its looks contemporary with a body design that blends in with the general trend of car styling today. The rear is a bit taller than we would like and this reminded us a little of Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoon series, especially with the slim tyres looking like skinny legs. Those who follow the cartoon series would know Olive Oyl to be a feisty lady and we would like to relate that to the Bezza as well.

Its body profile looked reasonably wind-cheating and Perodua says the Bezza has the best aerodynamic drag co-efficient (Cd) of its car range to-date. We believe the Cd value is in the low 0.30 factor, which is not bad coming from the effort put in by local designers and body engineers. Its three-box body styling was also different from the fastback prototype that Perodua had put on display at the KL International Motor Show a few years ago.

As a sedan, the Bezza runs on a 2455mm wheelbase, longer than that of the Myvi, and a body length of 4150mm. The Bezza runs on slightly narrower tracks, against the Myvi, of 1410mm in front and 1405mm at the rear. Overall, it is also slightly narrower at 1620mm and shorter at 1510mm. Given its dimensional status, we were not surprised to learn that the Bezza is lighter than the Myvi with kerb weights ranging from 865kg to 930kg for the respective model. This is because the Myvi’s fifth door carries a lot of weight, boosting its weight to 900kg up to 960kg for the top model.

The Bezza’s edge as a sedan is its luggage capacity and at 508 litres, Perodua says the boot is one of the biggest in volume among cars in the Malaysian market. If you want more room, especially for long items, the rear seats are split 60:40 for you to fold them down accordingly to fit your needs. Its passenger space is just as good too and a recent attempt by cattle rustlers to steal two cows in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan by shoving them into the rear passenger area should give you a good idea of that.

Despite being a car that is not as tall as the Myvi, few would pick a bone where headroom is concerned as the roof is high enough to give even tall people decent head space. The Bezza Advance comes with leather upholstery with diamond design, which is a bit fussy. Support all round for the seats is pretty good for all and sundry.

The Bezza’s 1.3-litre unit is a new Dual VVT-i (variable valve timing intelligent) engine, making this the first Perodua model to be powered by it. The unit has a higher displacement of 1329cc against the Myvi’s 1298cc; the engine remains undersquare but the bore and stroke are increased slightly from 72.0mm to 72.5mm in bore and from 79.7mm to 80.5mm in stroke. The Bezza’s engine also has a higher compression ratio of 11.5 to the Myvi’s 10.0.

Power output is naturally higher at 70kW (95PS) at 6000rpm (Myvi’s 1.3-litre output is 64kW/87PS at 6000rpm) and torque is 121Nm at 4000rpm (116Nm at 3200rpm). That gives the Bezza better power-to-weight ratio and this was clearly felt while driving the Advance in town and on the highway.

While it would mosey easily along in city traffic situations, it picked up the pace strongly when we prompted it by adding foot pressure on the accelerator. The gearing is clearly for stretching fuel mileage as the Bezza cruised at reasonably low engine speeds at legal highway speeds (2600-2800rpm). If the engine speed is above 3000rpm, you are clearly a target for the AES camera.

Being the top model, the Bezza Advance comes with Eco Idle that turns off the engine when you come to a stop at the traffic lights, with your foot on the brake pedal. Taking it off the pedal will restart the engine for you to continue the drive. This auto engine turn-off is timed for 90 seconds and it will restart when that time is lapsed. Or you could deactivate it if you find such a feature irritating or annoying.

With the eco driving feature, Perodua says the Bezza Advance can cover 22km per litre, which would be useful if petrol prices go up with stabilised and controlled oil production. During our few days with the car, the average fuel consumption was more than 16km/l. Of course, we didn’t start on a fresh note but merely continued with what the Bezza had achieved when it was loaned to us. The Bezza is the second EEV (energy efficient vehicle) from Perodua.

The good aerodynamic profiling of the body was also appreciated while driving on the highway; wind noise was well subdued and the slight rise in air turbulence as we picked up speed was easily tolerated. We also liked the way the suspension system curtailed the intrusion of road noise as we drove the Bezza over different road surfaces, adding nicely to the overall ride comfort.

The Bezza is independently sprung all round with MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam axle with coil springs and dampers at the rear. The tyres fitted to the Advance’s 5.5J alloy rims are 175/65 R14 Bridgestones Ecopia EP150, which is designed for low rolling resistance and good fuel mileage. The quiet running tyres probably helped in minimising road roar to make for a quiet ride on the highway.

The suspension tuning also took into consideration ride comfort and we were generally happy with the Bezza over speed-bumps and rough, uneven patches. There was a bit of clunkiness from the suspension linkages over bumpy surfaces but the roughness and road impacts were reduced to a fair extent.

Through winding roads, the Bezza held its own although we concede that the Myvi was more fun to drive in this respect. It must be considered that the Bridgestone Ecopia is more of a mileage tyre with decent performance in grip dynamics. Nevertheless, we were confident enough with the Bezza’s dynamic manners to explore its limits through our favourite winding roads. The tyres were prone to squeal a bit more readily as the understeer was strong when taking the tight turns but would grip well through sweeping corners at good speeds.

The Bezza might have a higher ride height that would make it a bit ungainly when pushed through winding roads but we were surprised. It had anti-roll bars that helped to keep body lean quite well checked. The Electric Power Steering lacked somewhat in directional feedback but that didn’t stop us from exploring its dynamic levels.

We were also encouraged by the fact that the Bezza Advance came with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control along with Brake Assist (BA) and ABS (anti-lock brake system) with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution). We figured we could regain control of the car better with the VSC should it break loose on reaching its limits.

The Bezza also scored well in the Asean NCAP Grand Prix awards with Best Child Occupant Protection and Best Adult Occupant Protection in the small family car category. Earlier, shortly after its launch it was accorded a five-star rating by Asean NCAP to make it the first five-star EEV national sedan.

Living with the Bezza Advance was likeable especially with its good range of standard features, especially the push-button engine start-stop item and the keyless entry, using the button on the driver’s door to open and lock the doors. Press once to open the driver’s door and press again to open all doors; Practical and safe. The same applies when using the remote.

We also like the reverse camera as it gives us the distance in metres so that we can gauge better when parking the Bezza Advance. There are useful storage facilities for all the doors and central console. The boot has an under-storage compartment and luggage net to hold items in place. And the sturdy anti-snatch hook by the inner side of the front passenger seat is not only good for the handbag but packaged food as well.

As the featured-loaded flagship model, the Bezza Advance fetches a pretty penny at RM50,800.00 on the road but that’s the model we would go for if we were in the market for a sedan. Of course, the Bezza Premium X 1.3 Auto is RM6000.00 cheaper but you don’t get VSC and Traction Control (the manual model goes for RM42,800). Or if you prefer the Bezza 1.0-litre Standard G, it’s very affordable at RM37,300 for the manual and RM39,300 for the automatic. Whatever your choice may be, with a Bezza you can’t go wrong.

Link here: Bezza Product Video

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