Peugeot 508 VS Toyota Camry
- Design oozes style
- High-tech, well equipped
- Refined fun behind the wheel
- Touchscreen air-con controls
- Rear seats clumsy to get into
- Steering wheel can block instruments
- Sharp new looks
- Drivetrain options for all
- Great handling
- Signs of cost-cutting inside
- Headroom a bit snug
- Non-folding rear seats
Peugeot has gone from strength to strength in Europe off the back of a branding and design renaissance.
The brand now fields a competitive range of SUVs as well as a new generation of tech and design-focused cars.
In Australia, you'd be forgiven for not knowing any of this, with French cars still well and truly in the niche basket. And with Aussie consumers increasingly shunning cars like the 508 in favour of SUVs, the liftback and wagon combo has the odds stacked against it.
So, if you're not already a French car die hard (they very much still exist) – should you be stepping out of your comfort zone and into Peugeot's latest and greatest offering? Read on to find out.
It's fair to say you don't often look for the Toyota Camry – the Toyota Camry finds you.
A fleet favourite of Aussie companies for the past few decades, Toyota Australia reluctantly turned off the lights at its Melbourne factory in October to end a long history of local Camry manufacturing in this country, its hand forced by rivals Holden and Ford pulling out of the car building business.
But Toyota has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to replacing the locally-made model, choosing to import a highly specced – and, dare we say it – good looking replacement Camry built in Japan and shipped over to Aussie showrooms despite an ever-softening demand for sedans in favour of SUVs.
Let's take a look at the eighth-generation Camry in a bit more detail.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The 508 draws you in with its stunning design, but under the surface there's a well-equipped and practical car.
While it might not be destined for mass popularity in Australia, it's still a compelling semi-premium option that should have you asking yourself: "Do I really need an SUV?"
It's an interesting point in the Camry's life. It's still a big seller for Toyota, and the company reckons it'll hold down the number one spot in the category next year.
The tide continues to turn towards SUVs in the private ownership sector, though, which will continue to harm potential sales.
However, Camry owners are a loyal bunch, and the newest iteration is a great reward for the owner of an older car. It's easily the best Camry that Toyota has ever produced.
If we were shopping for a Camry, the Ascent Sport Hybrid is a good mix of practicality and good looks, as well as a decent level of spec for or less than $32,000.
What do you think of the new Toyota Camry? Hit or miss? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Let's lead with this Pug's strongest suit. No matter whether you choose the liftback or the wagon, you're getting a seriously stunning car. There are a lot of elements comprising the front and rear fascias, yet somehow it's not overly busy.
The downward swoop of the bonnet and the angular rear, with a subtle flicked up wing on the liftback, give this car a curvy but muscular aesthetic, and there are more than enough 'wow' items, like the DRLs which streak down from the front light clusters and rear fittings, which reference this car's classy 407 ancestor.
Meanwhile, the more you look at the wagon, particularly from the rear, the more elements begin to stand out. Either car has a sleek silhouette when spotted from the side.
There's no doubt it has a rich visual presence – one which is befitting of Peugeot's new push to be seen as a more premium offering in Australia. It's also easy to draw comparisons to recent design leaders like Volvo's S60 and V60 twins, and Mazda's new 3 and 6.
Inside is just as bold, with Peugeot's iCockpit interior theme providing a fresh take on a tired formula.
The theme consists of a steering wheel that 'floats' low and flat in the dash, with the instrument cluster perched atop. There's also a raised console and super-wide 10-inch touchscreen adorning the centre of an otherwise minimalist looking interior.
Annoyingly, the dual-zone climate control is operated via the touchscreen, which is clumsy and annoying to look at when you should be keeping your eyes on the road. Give us an old-fashioned set of dials next time, it's just so much easier.
The design is comprised of mostly tasteful leather finish, gloss black panelwork and soft-touch plastics. The pictures somehow don't do it justice, although personally I think it could do with a little less chrome.
Maybe we should really be thanking SUVs for a resurgence in great-looking passenger cars for every niche.
You could say that! The Camry has morphed from something that only paid scant regard to making a difference in a carpark to a sleeker, more stylised car that will hold its own against most of of its competitors.
Toyota Australia is following the same path as overseas markets by offering the Camry in two distinct styles – although there's really only one example of the more staid and steady look in the Ascent.
The rest of the range uses a much more overt, strongly stylised front and rear bumper, deeper side skirts and, in some instances, a bootlid spoiler.
There are definite traces of Lexus design language, especially in the front, while the lower bonnet line and overall height reduction of the car – 25mm lower than the previous generation – gives the car a more purposeful stance.
Wheels range in size from 17-inch to a Camry-first 19-inch diameter, but the large guard apertures really need those bigger rims to properly fill them.
There are eight colours available: Glacier White, Frosted White, Silver Pearl, Steel Blonde, Blacksmith Bronze, Lunar Blue, Emotional Red and Eclipse Black.
Inside, too, the newest Camry is also the most contemporary. A large flat glass panel seamlessly incorporates the Camry's newest generation multimedia system, while the dramatic shapes and curves of the Camry are both modern and functional.
The dash, too, uses a prominent central digital screen flanked by two stylised dials that almost look out of place in a Camry.
There are a few points where cost cutting is a little obvious – hard plastics on the tops of the rear door cards, for instance, and very little adjustability for the passenger seats – but on the whole, the Camry surprises and delights both inside and out.
No matter which bodystyle you pick, the 508 is a practical unit, although there are a few areas where the design takes priority.
We'll start with the luggage area, where both cars are at their best. The Sportback offers 487-litres of storage, which is up there with the biggest hatchbacks and most mid-size SUVs, whereas the wagon offers almost 50 extra litres (530L), which is more space than most people will realistically need.
Up in the second-row space is decent, with an inch or two of airspace for my knees behind my own (182cm tall) driving position. There's room above my head once I'm seated - despite the slopey roofline - but getting in and out is a scramble, with the C-pillar jutting down where the door joins the body.
You'll fit three adults across, with a bit of a squeeze, and there are ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outer two seats.
The rear seats also get access to a set of air vents, two USB power outlets and netting on the back of the front seats. There are cupholders in the doors, but they're so tight they'll only really hold an espresso cup.
Up front, the door issue is the same – it won't hold a 500ml bottle due to the complex door cards – but there are two large cupholders in the centre.
Storage for the front occupants is far better than it is in this car's 308 hatch sibling, with the posh raised centre console also offering a long trench for phones and wallets, as well as a deep centre-console box and a storage area underneath, which also hosts the front USB outlets. There's a decently sized glovebox on the passenger side.
Room for front occupants is also good, as the seats are set low in the body, but knee room is limited due to the wide console and overly thick door cards.
The iCockpit design is perfectly suited to someone my size, but if you're particularly short you won't be able to see over the dash elements, and if you're particularly tall it will get uncomfortable quickly, with the wheel blocking elements or simply sitting too low. Seriously, just ask our resident giraffe-person, Richard Berry.
The rear seats also fold down in a 60/40 split/fold arrangement - though you'll really have to search for the latches.
Luggage capacity, meanwhile, varies across the line depending on grade and spec. The base Ascent has a full-size spare and 493 litres of boot space, while the rest of the range uses a temporary spare, gaining an extra 31L of space.
Rear seaters are better catered for in the second-from-the-top SX and top-spec SL, with twin USB ports and air vents, while all grades have two cup holders in the centre armrest, bottle holders in the doors and two ISOFIX points.
Up front, the driver's position is set lower than in previous Camrys, and the steering wheel is quite large. A polyurethane wheel is a bit of a low point for the Ascent, though, especially in such an otherwise stylish car.
There are two cupholders up front and a very large centre console bin, thanks to the addition of an electronic park brake, and bottles can be stowed in the door pockets.
Front seats are wide and comfy, though a lack of height adjustment for the passenger side left taller passengers almost brushing the roof thanks to that lower roofline.
Price and features
An impressive specification is completely standard, including a 10-inch multimedia toucschreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, built-in navigation and DAB+ digital radio, a 12.3-inch digital dash cluster, modestly sized 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED front and rear lighting, adaptive dampers, which respond to the car's five driving modes, and a thorough active-safety suite, which includes adaptive cruise control.
The black fully leather interior trim is included, as well as heated and powered front seats.
The only two items that reside on the options list are a sunroof ($2500) and premium paints (either metallic at $590 or pearlescent at $1050).
While all of those options, including the 508, are not budget buys, Peugeot makes no apologies for the fact that it's not going after the volume end of the market. It hopes the 508 will become the brand's "aspirational flagship."
This is an all-new, ground-up rebuild of the Camry. Based on Toyota's new flexible architecture, the Camry is a lot more car than the model it replaces.
Longer and lower than the seventh-gen car, the new version has been repurposed - it's a new age of Toyota Camry models. Gone are the old Altise and Atara nameplates, replaced by Ascent, Ascent Sport, SX and SL.
There's even two different bodykit designs; the Ascent is more subtle and refined, while the Ascent Sport, SX and SL are more aggressive, with a Lexus-like bumper treatment front and rear, rear spoiler and deeper side skirts. There are even quad exhausts on some models!
If engine size is important to you, Toyota has also transplanted its latest direct-injection 3.5-litre petrol V6 from the Kluger into the Camry range, essentially replacing the Aurion and adding a V6 badge on the back of a Camry for the first time in 30 years.
Standard on the specifications list for the entire Toyota Camry range from the Ascent up is auto emergency braking (AEB), reversing camera, digital speedo (finally!), an all-new multimedia system with 7.0-inch touch screen, CD player, MP3 player connectivity, DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth (but no CD player), six speakers for the sound system, active cruise control, lane departure alert and LED lights front and rear. The Ascent hybrid has climate control, where the non-hybrid model has regular old ac.
The Ascent Sport adds sportier front and rear bumpers, deeper side skirts, dual-zone climate control, leather-clad steering wheel, an 8.0-inch screen with GPS or sat nav, 18-inch rims (up one inch from Ascent), powered driver's seat, parking sensors and keyless entry.
Now, prices: the Ascent can be had in 2.5-litre four-cylinder/six-speed auto guise for $27,690, or hybrid for $29,990. The Ascent Sport, meanwhile, is $29,990 for the four-cylinder and $31,990 for the hybrid.
Step into the SX and you'll get extra USB ports for back seat passengers, shift paddles, a sportier suspension tune, 19-inch rims, different LED lights front and rear and leather seats (leather-accented sports seats, to be precise).
The SX comes in the four-cylinder petrol/six-speed auto at $33,290, and it also marks the introduction of the V6/eight-speed auto combo for $36,290.
Finally, the SL scores blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, smaller 18-inch rims, ventilated and powered front seats with driver's seat memory, electrically operated steering wheel column and a panoramic sunroof.
It's available in all three engine combos, with the four-potter costing $39,990, the hybrid priced at $40,990, and the V6/eight-speed auto topping the range at $43,990.
Engine & trans
Peugeot has made this department easy, too. There's just one drivetrain.
It's a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which punches above its weight on the power front with 165kW/300Nm. If you think about it, there were many V6 engines that wouldn't have produced that kind of power, even just a few years ago.
The engine drives the front wheels only via an also-new eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. There's no all-wheel drive and no diesel as part of Peugeot's simplify-and-conquer strategy.
The 2AR-FE engine at the bottom of the range is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine that offers 133kW of power and 231Nm of torque. It's been carried over from the seventh-gen Camry, along with its six-speed transmission. All Camry models here are front wheel drive.
The A25-FXS four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine in the hybrid version is also 2.5 litres in capacity, and outputs 131kW and 221Nm. A 650-volt electric motor kicks in another 88kW and 202Nm for a claimed combined power output of 160kW. A single speed transaxle manages propulsion duties.
The 2GR-FKS 3.5-litre V6 from the Kluger, meanwhile, makes much more horsepower with 224kW and 362Nm, though Toyota reckons that the quad-exhaust versions of the car will make a little more than the twin-tipped cars. If you're all about engine specs, it's the one for you.
All three engines are fine on 91 octane fuel, too. There's no diesel.
Kerb weights vary from 1495kg for the base four-cylinder Ascent up to 1695kg for the top spec SL hybrid. The gross vehicle weight is 2030kg for the four-cylinder and hybrid, and 2100kg for the V6.
Towing capacity for all models is 500kg unbraked, while the V6 can tow a little more if the trailer has brakes (1600kg vs 1200kg for the four-cylinder and hybrid models).
The 508 is rated to consume an impressive-sounding 6.3L/100km on the combined cycle, although in my recent test of the 308 GT hatchback, which shares the same drivetrain, I scored 8.5L/100km.
While our countryside blast at the 508's launch event would be an unfair representation of this car's real-world fuel consumption, I'd be surprised if most people scored below 8.0L/100km, given this car's extra kerb weight over the 308 and the nature of its entertaining drive.
We should stop for a moment and appreciate that this engine is the first one on sale in Australia featuring a petrol particulate filter (PPF).
While other manufacturers (like Land Rover and Volkswagen) have been vocal about the fact that they cannot bring PPFs to Australia due to our lax (high-sulfur) fuel quality, Peugeot's "totally passive" system allows for higher sulfur contents, so 508 owners can rest assured they're driving around with reasonably low CO2 tailpipe emissions of 142g/km.
As a result, however, the 508 requires you to fill its 62-litre tank with a minimum 95RON mid-grade unleaded petrol.
We reviewed the dash-indicated figures for all three cars over our 245km test, with the base four-cylinder returning 7.9 litres per 100km against a claimed fuel economy rating of 7.8L/100km.
The V6 returned fuel consumption of 11.9L/100km against a claim of 8.9L/100km, while the hybrid drivetrain's claims of between 4.2 and 4.5L/100km, depending on variant, didn't play out on the country road route. It couldn't manage any better than 13.6L/100km on the combined cycle.
Non-hybrid Camrys offer a 60-litre fuel tank capacity, while the hybrid uses a 50L tank.
The 508 matches up to its swoopy looks by being a whole lot of fun, but also surprisingly refined behind the wheel.
The 1.6 turbo isn't wildly powerful for something this size, but it's easily grunts enough, with peak torque easily lighting up the front wheels from a standstill. It's quiet, too, and the eight speed is silky-smooth in most driving modes
Speaking of which, special attention should be given to the driving modes. In many cars you'll get a 'sport' button, which, nine times out of 10, is basically useless. But not here in the 508, where each of its five distinct driving modes alters everything from engine response, transmission map and steering weight to the mode of the adaptive dampers.
Comfort is best for plodding around town or in traffic, with a smooth engine and transmission response to inputs and light steering, which makes it a cinch to move around.
The prime B-roads we were on around Canberra's countryside periphery, however, demanded the full-fat sports mode, which makes the steering heavy and instantly responsive and the engine far more aggressive. It will let you ride each gear all the way up to the red line and switching to manual gives impressively snappy responses, via the flappy paddle, wheel-mounted shifters.
I was taken aback to find that no matter which mode I chose, the suspension was excellent. It was softer in comfort but even in sport it wasn't as brutal as the 308 GT hatch, soaking up the larger bumps without shaking up the occupants in the process. This is partially due to the 508's reasonably sized 18-inch alloys.
The wheel itself feels great in your hands, with a small radius and slightly square shape making it easy to wrangle. My main complaint is directed at the the multimedia touchscreen, which is seated so deep in the dash it requires taking your eyes a bit too far off the road to adjust anything – including the climate controls.
With no all-wheel drive and modest power, the 508 is hardly a proper sportscar, but it is still a great balance of refinement and fun where it counts.
The Camry is the newest car in a pack that includes Ford's Mondeo and the Mazda6, as well as the Skoda Octavia and VW Passat. It's based on the company's new flexible platform – known as Toyota New Global Architecture or TNGA - which also underpins the new C-HR, and it adds a new level of assurance and competence to the car.
The front suspension and rear suspension combine to offer a ride quality that is frankly excellent over broken terrain, and it has a terrific ability to soak up square edge bumps and potholes without transmitting them back into the cabin.
It's pretty benign in the steering department, but it's more than adequate, while the various drivetrain combos add a bit of character to each of the cars. The turning circle is a little large.
The base 2.5-litre engine is perfectly fine stroking down the freeway or in town, but can get caught on the hop in hilly terrain. The new hybrid set-up is seamless and clever, too, though it can sound strained when the Atkinson cycle petrol engine is asked to give a little more.
The V6-powered Camry feels stronger and more capable, with better acceleration and easily a much quicker 0-100 time, while the eight-speed auto is a good match, too.
Lower grade cars do let a bit more road noise into the cabin, and the supposedly sportier suspension tune of the SX model is only marginally more pointed than the stock cars.
We need a bit more time behind the wheel, but on balance, the new Camry is the most dynamically accomplished to date.
We didn't have any issues or problems during our test, but if anything pops up you'll find it on our Toyota Camry problems page.
The 508 comes loaded as standard with an impressive suite of active safety items including auto emergency braking (AEB – works from 0 – 140km/h), lane-keep assist (LKAS) with lane-departure warning (LDW), blind-spot monitoring (BSM), traffic-sign recognition (TSR), and active cruise control, which also lets you set your exact position within the lane.
Thanks to the 508's AEB also detecting pedestrians and cyclists, it already carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.
The expected suite of features include six airbags, three top-tether and two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points as well as electronic stability and brake controls.
Seven airbags and safety features such as auto emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning across all grades ensure a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating for the Camry range. More driver aids are fitted as you get higher in the range, too, like rear cross-traffic alert.
Peugeot currently offers a competitive five-year unlimited kilometre warranty promise, which includes five years of roadside assist.
The 508 only has to be serviced once every 12 months or 20,000km, which is nice, but that's where the good news ends. Service pricing is steeper than budget-brand peers, with a fixed-price program costing between $600 and $853 per visit. Over the length of the warranty it will cost you a total of $3507 or an average of $701.40 per year.
It's almost twice the price of some competitors, but Peugeot does promise that the service visits are all inclusive of expendable items like fluids and filters etc.
The Camry's reputation for reliability and resale value precedes it, and servicing is taken care of by way of Toyota's capped price servicing plan for the first five years or 75,000km (whichever occurs first). Service costs are capped at $195 per visit.
It's sticking with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which is starting to look a little underdone in the current market. For those who want it, there is an extended warranty program.
Service intervals on the Camry, including the Hybrid, are set at every 12 months or 15,000km.