Test Drive: 2020 Perodua Bezza 1.3L AV (RM49,890)

By daryl, 03 April 2020

Wait a minute, are you offering e-hailing services on the side? 

Very funny. The Perodua Bezza may be ridiculously popular amongst e-hailing drivers prowling the streets of the Klang Valley, but it’s not without good reason. It stems from Perodua’s strategy of giving traditional, sedan-frenzied buyers the most amount of space they can get for the least amount of hard-earned Ringgits. And while there’s no disputing the copious amounts of space in the boot (508 litres to be exact) and rear quarters of Perodua’s sole sedan offering, we’re not sure if the second half of the equation adds up. 

So it’s not exactly cheap? No wonder you need the extra income… 

You’ll definitely need to put in more hours on the road to make your instalment payments if you opted for the Bezza instead of its natural rival, the Proton Saga. On paper, the RM49,980 Perodua is asking for the range-topping Bezza 1.3L AV pictured may look very affordable in M40 eyes acclimatised to B-segment sedan prices in the RM80k-RM90k bracket. But that’s a whole RM10k more than the highest-spec Saga on sale today. You don’t need a calculator to know that’s a huge chunk of a RM50k budget – 20 percent if you insist on being mathematical. 


Aren’t Peroduas supposed to be rakyat-friendly? Surely the price is justified in some way… 

Well, this isn’t your average facelift. Perodua has refashioned the Bezza’s exterior – particularly the front end – considerably for 2020. And the new LED headlights are particularly fetching for a car of this price. But you can be assured that there’s more to the package than improved looks when the highest-spec Bezza 1.3L costs nearly as much as a base Myvi 1.5L. Headline specs include 15-inch alloys and a touchscreen head-unit with a reverse camera. But it’s the Advance Safety Assist (ASA 2.0) driver aids that really help set the AV variant apart from the Bezza’s closest competitors. 

How do these fancy features hold up in the real world? 

For starters, the bigger wheels manage to give the already tall-ish Bezza 15mm more ground clearance than before (hooray?). The infotainment feels very aftermarket against Proton’s more polished, GKUI-adapted units; though both brands struggle with camera feed quality at this price range. This truly leaves the ASA 2.0 package as Perodua’s sole way of making sense of the RM10k gap separating the highest-spec Bezza from the Saga. And while we weren’t able to put its pre-collision braking to the test (thankfully), it’s certainly good to know that the car will autonomously brake from speeds of up to 80kph in the event of an imminent collision with another vehicle (up to 50kph for pedestrians). 

Perodua deserves a huge round of applause for making this feature, alongside pre-collision warning, front departure alert and pedal misoperation control accessible to a wider demographic at a time when luxury cars costing ten times the price still aren’t guaranteed similar features. What we cannot comprehend is how a car which has gotten so technologically advanced despite its continued affordability still doesn’t offer drivers any form of steering adjustment. Mind blowing, really.

It must have been quite frustrating to drive then…

Fortunately, the default driving position (there’s no seat height adjustment either) works well with most average Malaysian heights, our writer’s 175cm included. It’s far from ideal, but the 2020 Bezza’s updated instrument cluster and lightly redesigned centre console help take the edge off a bit. The drive itself tells the same old story with little to shout about. You still have to make do with the Dual VVT-i engine’s modest 94bhp and 121Nm of twist which drive the front wheels via a four-speed auto. It’s hardly an exciting combo, but it gets the job done with commendable efficiency. That said, the stark lightness in nearly every mobile aspect of the Bezza comes in handy when you’re trapped in the narrower sections of KL during rush hour. 


Is it comfortable at least?
As roomy as the Bezza’s cabin is, it’s not particularly plush or insulated. The likes of Kia and Proton have successfully demonstrated that sub-RM50k cars can deliver a smooth and quiet ride at this price point, particularly at highway speeds that tend to rattle the Perodua. Stay within city limits and you’ll find the Bezza to still be largely comfort-biased for the daily grind. Knocks and bumps feel a touch more apparent in the back, but we suppose the ultra-generous legroom bolstered by backrests that now lean four degrees further to the back do make up for the rudimentary passenger experience. It’s an easy choice for buyers with an overwhelming preference for space over ride quality – those that think otherwise would’ve probably gotten a Saga by now. 

So it’s still a relatively basic car despite the improvements? 
There’s no escaping the fact that the 2020 Perodua Bezza, though thoroughly enhanced, remains an entry-level product of a manufacturer that’s devoted to the business of giving Malaysians the cars they need, not the ones they dream of. At its core, it’s built to strict cost restrictions like any other Perodua given the paper-thin margins in the high-volume sector, hence the inevitable ‘cheap car’ quirks like hollow plastics and unsightly panel gaps. 

While issues like these are typically unacceptable by the standards of premium makes, they rarely hamper a car from fulfilling its most essential purpose – ferrying passengers from one place to another. With the basics sorted if not polished, Perodua chose a path of enrichment over refinement with the range-topping Bezza 1.3L AV. Much of the new luxuries that set it apart from the more affordable Proton Saga are ultimately defined by function instead of form, many of which are potentially life-saving. And while we still believe there are better ways to spend RM50k on a brand new car in Malaysia, we can understand why the Bezza continues to appeal to loyalists of the three-boxed layout wanting a little something extra.