At a recent media preview of the new Persona, Proton claimed that over the course of five years, the Persona would cost RM3,051.91 in scheduled servicing, which is on average 32% less compared to the Perodua Bezza and Honda City. This has since prompted the second national carmaker to release a statement saying these details are inaccurate and misleading.

“The inaccuracy in cost difference is due to a comparison made not on an apple-to-apple basis. The Proton Persona’s service costs were calculated as scheduled in its service booklet or owner’s manual whilst for the Bezza, the calculation was based on its preventive maintenance costs (which are optional) instead of scheduled costs as recommended in the service booklet,” said Datuk Zahari Husin, managing director at Perodua Sales.

Naturally, this got many people curious about the service costs for the two models, and to try and make sense of it all, we decided to dig up the figures from the official websites of both national carmakers to see what’s what.

In the case of the Persona, the Proton model is only available with a 1.6 litre engine, with a choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT. The closest comparison will be the Bezza with the 1.3 litre engine, which can be had with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Just for additional info, we’ll even throw in the 1.0 litre version of the Bezza, but this isn’t part of the main comparison.

Over a 100,000 km or five-year period, the Bezza appears to the be more expensive of the two models to maintain, regardless of transmission type. Perplexed? Us too. And to understand the reason for the disparities in maintenance costs, let’s take a look at the individualised item list of both models.

Firstly, the Bezza uses a lower viscosity engine oil (0W-20) when compared to the Persona (10W-30), that comes at a higher premium. The Bezza 1.3’s advanced 1NR-VE four-cylinder engine also uses iridium spark plugs that are changed at 50,000 (optional) and 100,000 km (compulsory), with each set costing RM220.40. By comparison, the Persona doesn’t use iridium spark plugs, so while it needs more frequent replacements (every 30,000 km), replacing them only costs RM51 each time.

Next, we also noticed that the Bezza requires transmission oil changes at 40,000 and 80,000 km, while this only happens once for the Persona within 100,000 km. The same can also be said of the radiator coolant, which is replaced more frequently on the Bezza (40,000 and 80,000 km) than the Persona (90,000 km only).

Perodua Bezza 1.0L (left), Perodua Bezza 1.3L (right); Click to enlarge

The Bezza’s maintenance schedule also requires the cabin filter to be replaced every 30,000 km, but this isn’t listed with the Persona. It is also worth nothing that the Bezza’s engine uses a timing chain rather than a timing belt, with no replacement listed within 100,000 km. By comparison, the Persona requires a front end accessory drive (FEAD) belt change at 100,000 km.

Perodua also offers preventative maintenance measures such as major service for the air-conditioning system, as well as tyre alignment, balancing and rotation. These are included as part of the maintenance schedule on Perodua’s website, but they are in fact optional as part of the Pro Care Package that Perodua offers to customers.

Should you decide to forgo these preventative maintenance measures like the tyre-related maintenance (available at selected outlets only) every 20,000 km, you won’t need to fork out RM245 within the 100,000 km ownership period. Skip the air-conditioning service at 60,000 km, and you’ll save RM144 as well.

Proton Persona 1.6L CVT and MT; Click to enlarge

UPDATE: Perodua has clarified to that a few items listed on the full service menu are, in fact, entirely optional (as part of its Pro Care preventive maintenance programme) and not strictly required as per the owner’s manual/service booklet.

These optional items include more frequent intervals for select items, including the spark plugs at 50,000 km (only the change at 100,000 km is compulsory), and both the (engine) air cleaner filter and brake fluid at 20,000 and 60,000 km (these are only compulsory at 40k and 80k km). Forgoing Pro Care optional items will not affect the car’s warranty.

Strip out all the optional items – including tyre alignment and major A/C service – and the basic maintenance cost for the Bezza 1.3L AT (as per the service booklet) is RM3,095.39 for the first five years/100,000 km, matching the figure claimed by Perodua. This is just RM43.59 more than the Proton Persona’s total cost, or a difference of about 1%.

Perodua Bezza 1.3L AT with/without Pro Care and optional preventative maintenance measures; Click to enlarge

Without including the optional preventative maintenance measures that cost RM389 in total, the Bezza 1.3 AT will cost RM3,861.91 to maintain over 100,000 km/five years, or RM3,733.03 in the case of the Bezza 1.3 MT. These figures are still higher than those associated with the Persona by 26.61% and 31.35% respectively, but do consider the number of items listed in the Bezza’s maintenance schedule that are not in the Persona’s.

Keep in mind that there are some factors that aren’t considered here, like fuel consumption, or even consumables like brake pads, shock absorbers, batteries and tyres that would likely vary between the two vehicles as well as through individual ownership.

So, there you have it. With everything laid out for your consideration, share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below. These figures are based on what is listed on manufacturers’ websites at the time of writing, and that actual prices may vary.