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Chances are, you’ve already seen plenty of units of the Perodua Bezza on the road. This really is the car of the moment, and the national carmaker couldn’t have hit the heartland of the Malaysian market more accurately in terms of the positioning and pricing of its first sedan.

That positioning, incidentally, is significantly higher than the car it is based on, the A-segment Perodua Axia hatchback. So how does the Bezza justify the price premium? We’ve brought together the range-topping Advance examples of both cars to illustrate this.

Let’s start with prices – the Axia 1.0L Advance is priced at RM42,530 on-the-road with insurance, while the Bezza 1.3L Advance is quite a bit dearer at RM50,800. The extra boot has probably got a lot to do with the higher price, but the Bezza also gets a larger engine and plenty of added equipment, too.

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The Axia looks the more expressive of the duo, with a much angrier front fascia incorporating furrowed projector headlights and a massive trapezoidal grille. It should be noted that the base Axia E and G variants get a friendlier face with slimmer upper and lower grilles, plus reflector headlights in a different shape.

Meanwhile, the more mature Bezza gets a broad one-piece headlight (reflectors here, an odd downgrade from the Axia’s projectors) and grille graphic, with chrome spanning the entire width of the top edge. This is echoed in the full-width lower grille that encompasses both the fog lights and the centre air intake.

Along the sides, both the Axia and Bezza have steeply-rising beltlines towards the rear, giving a more athletic look on the hatch, but a slightly awkward appearance on the sedan. Perodua has done a lot to try and mask the latter – it has straightened the slight beltline dip around the wing mirror area, and added a second character line below the main one that carries the door handles to reduce slab-sidedness.

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Come around to the rear and you’ll notice that the Bezza has a very steep rake to the boot, giving it quite a tall look. This is likely done in relation to the rising beltline, reducing the dumpy boot look that typically afflicts hatchback-derived sedans. The LED tail lights of the sedan are very much reminiscent of the previous FB-generation Honda Civic, and the chrome strip on the bootlid brings to mind the current Toyota Vios.

On the other hand, the Axia’s pert rear end features clear (on the Advance and SE) C-shaped LED tail lights and a low mounted number plate recess, giving the car a simpler, sportier aesthetic, if less upmarket. Both cars get 14-inch machined-finish alloy wheels, but the Bezza’s have a more intricate two-tone turbine-spoke design. The third brake lights are LEDs on both, but only the Bezza has it as standard across the range.

Step inside and you’ll find that the two are vastly different. Both offer a similar amount of interior space, but the Bezza gets a much more premium look with details such as a full-width gloss black fascia trim and altogether more substantial switchgear such as the chunkier air-conditioning control knobs, indicator and wiper stalks and gear shifter. Material quality is also improved, with finer textures on the plastics.

Perodua Bezza Advance (left), Perodua Axia Advance (right)

The floor-mounted console box is new too – ahead of the gearlever sits a new cubbyhole near the cupholders that’s perfect for storing your odds and ends, while the rear of the box gains a smartphone holder (replacing the Axia’s rear cupholder), complete with Proton-style twin USB charging ports on the 1.3 litre models.

Other changes include a cleaner instrument cluster design – the rev counter and speedometer are now the same size (no more squinting at the Axia’s tiny, oddly-shaped tach), while the trip computer sits in the centre and gets a new real-time fuel consumption display.

Both range-topping models here get leather seats, but the Bezza gains a new quilted design on the seat centres, and the ‘Bezza’ brand embossed on the backrests. The sedan also gets silver trim on the steering wheel’s horn pad, and neat white stitching along the rim.

Perodua Bezza Advance (left), Perodua Axia Advance (right)

The Bezza offers kit that you wouldn’t expect to be available on a Perodua just a few years ago, including keyless entry, push button start, speed-sensitive wipers and a driver’s side window that goes up automatically as well as down. And while both get front and rear parking sensors and a Bluetooth enabled touchscreen head unit, the Bezza adds Smart Link smartphone screen mirroring (Android only) and a reverse camera.

Safety-wise, the Bezza gets dual airbags, ABS with EBD and ISOFIX child seat mounts with top tether as standard on all models, whereas the Axia launched with anti-lock brakes only on the SE and up. Noteworthy here is the fact that the Axia G received ABS since the beginning of the year, meaning that only the bargain-basement driving school-spec Axia E does away without it.

On top of all this, this top-spec Bezza Advance marks Perodua’s first application of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), netting it a five-star ASEAN NCAP crash safety rating. All other Bezza models, as well as all Axia variants, get four stars instead.

Perodua Bezza Advance (left), Perodua Axia Advance (right)

Naturally, boot space is the biggest differentiator between the two cars. The Axia’s 260 litre cargo area is very respectable for its size and class – in fact, it’s significantly bigger than the Myvi’s 208 litres – but it is dwarfed by the Bezza’s 508 litre boot. The latter also gets a movable cargo net which can be placed at the front, rear or sides of the load bay, preventing loose items from scattering about.

Whereas all Axia models get the same 1.0 litre 1KR-DE2 three-cylinder engine, the Bezza offers a choice between two engines. The base Standard variants receive an updated version with VVT-i, the 1KR-VE – outputs are up 1 hp and 1 Nm, sitting at 67 hp at 6,000 rpm and 91 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Higher up the range is the new 1.3 litre 1NR-VE four-cylinder engine as fitted here. This unit gains Dual VVT-i technology and punches out 94 hp at 6,000 rpm and 121 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Both engines are available with the choice of either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed electronically-controlled automatic; as with the Axia Advance, the Bezza Advance is automatic-only.

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Fuel consumption is an important stat for Perodua these days, so let’s get down to it. The Axia used to be the company’s efficiency champion with a combined fuel consumption figure 21.6 km per litre with the manual transmission and 20.1 km/l with the automatic, but it’s been superseded by the Bezza.

Thanks to improved aerodynamics and the use of low rolling resistance tyres, the sedan in 1.0 litre form achieves 22.8 km/l with the manual and 21.3 km/l with the automatic. Models equipped with the 1.3 litre engine get 21.7 km/l for the manual and 21 km/l for the auto, while this Advance model with Eco Idle automatic engine stop/start is able to hit 22 km/l.

So, now that you’ve had a detailed look at both the Perodua Bezza sedan and Axia hatch, which one would you go for? As usual, sound off in the comments section after the jump. For a more general look at the benefits and downsides of a sedan versus a hatchback, read our bodystyle comparison here.


GALLERY: Perodua Bezza 1.3L Advance
GALLERY: Perodua Axia 1.0L Advance