Peugeot 508 VS Toyota Prius V
- 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
Toyota Prius V
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.
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Toyota Prius V
I could use three words to describe this car: Toyota, family, hybrid… A fourth word comes to mind, which begins with 'b' and ends in 'oring'…
That might seem harsh, but this isn’t what I’d describe as an aspirational purchase. If you do aspire to a Prius V, though, you’re probably either a hardcore Toyota fan, someone who has a large family, or someone who likes hybrids.
But then again, if you are a potential Toyota Prius V buyer, you could also be one of the smarter examples of our species. While only about 3000 Aussies have chosen a Prius V since it went on sale in 2012, it’s a very, very clever option for family buyers who want to do their bit for the environment, not to mention their own hip pocket.
The Prius V is the most affordable seven-seat hybrid vehicle on the market, and in terms of price, it competes with mainstream models like the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail. But what about space? Practicality? Performance? Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Regular Unleaded|
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?"
Toyota Prius V7.1/10
No, the Prius V isn’t exciting. But it does what it’s designed to do - move families in decent comfort without using much fuel. And if that’s what gets your (hybrid) motor running, then you really ought to take a closer look.
Would you consider a Toyota Prius V over a more conventional seven-seat SUV? Let us know in the comments section 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.
Toyota Prius V
The world was a different place when the Toyota Prius V came out. Back then, the iPhone 4s was at the cutting-edge in phone design, Gangnam Style was smashing it on the charts, and car design was in a very different place.
There are some signature Prius elements, with a swept, aerodynamic looking roofline and sleek front-end styling. The facelift that was applied to the Prius V in 2015 saw sharper lines and more aggression, but it arguably doesn’t have a lot of aesthetic appeal given the way Toyota has evolved its design since then.
It isn’t a traditional people-mover, because it has regular doors at the back rather than sliding doors to allow simple access to the third-row seats. It’s more like a hatchback that’s been stung by a bee, looking a bit bloated. But as one pint-sized tester put it this week, it’s one very big little car.
The inside is a bit of a marvel in terms of space management. This car measures just 25mm longer than a Corolla sedan (4645mm long), and it's only 1775mm wide (the same as a Corolla sedan) and 1590mm tall, because it needs a bit more room to fit seven people in. And it can.
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.
Toyota Prius V
The cabin of the Prius V highlights the notion of versatility. There are two rows of seats at the back, with the middle row sliding and folding to allow easy third-row access. And I mean easy - even me, a 183cm-tall human - can clamber into the back seats without too much in the way of old-man noises.
The space in the back row is limited, though, particularly for knee room and foot space. It is best left for children, then. But the second row has three individually slide-able seats, meaning if you really need to fit seven adults in, you theoretically could.
That second row is nicely useable. The fact the seats are sculpted individually means they feel made for a proper family getaway, and even with them set as far forward as they can go (to allow maximum legroom in the third row) I could sit in the outboard seats without much discomfort. The sun-blinds that are built into the back doors are a really welcome touch for parents and adults alike.
What isn’t so great is the lack of rear air-vents - there aren’t any face-level vents in either the second or third rows, meaning things could get stuffy on a hot day.
But the practicality side of things is reasonably well sorted, with useable cup holders in the rear wheel arch moulds, plus there’s a 12-volt outlet in the third row, too. The middle row has bottle holders in the doors, and there are map pockets in the front seatbacks.
Up front there is more smart storage; a pair (yep, two) of gloveboxes adorns the dashboard, and there’s a pop-out cupholder on the passenger side, too. Two more cupholders grace the centre console (which itself is very shallow, because the hybrid batteries sit inside it), plus a small storage box - presumably for your keys to sit. A small shelf sits at the bottom of the centre stack, and that’s where you’ll find a USB port to connect to the media screen above.
That 6.1-inch touchscreen is fine, but pretty ancient. It has some small menu buttons, won’t allow you to input phone numbers or connect to Bluetooth when the car is moving, and you (or your fellow front passenger) can’t manually enter sat nav details when you’re driving. There is voice control, but it’s painful. Forget Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too - neither is available in the Prius V.
While the boot space is pretty limited with seven seats in place - Toyota claims 180 litres of capacity in that configuration - there’s still enough room for a suitcase or two.
But with five seats in play it makes quite a bit more sense, more easily fitting family things like prams with its 485L of cargo capacity. And remember, there are no batteries under the boot floor eating into space, and you get a space-saver spare wheel as well.
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."
Toyota Prius V
It undercuts the Tarago, Kluger and Land Cruiser Prado by a decent margin, with pricing starting at $37,590 for the base grade model and stretching to $45,380 for the top-of-two-tier i-Tech flagship. Should you bother spending up on that version? In short, no.
That’s because the regular Prius V has a pretty strong standard equipment list. Push-button start, keyless entry, sat nav with SUNA live traffic updates, a reversing camera, climate control and a head-up display are all standard. You also get 16-inch alloy wheels, which have a set of plastic wheel covers over the top (great for kerb touch-parkers).
The i-Tech sees the addition of Bi-LED headlights with auto-levelling (as opposed to the halogens with LED daytime running lights you see on the base model), plus fake leather seats (not cloth), heated front seats, a dual-pane panoramic glass roof (which doesn’t open), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and a semi-automated parking system.
Plus, whether you choose the entry grade or the high-spec, you get Toyota’s 'Safety Sense+' system - read the details in the safety section below.
Colour options for the Prius V are quite broad. There are nine rather sedate hues to choose from, with eight of them being 'premium colours' that attract an additional cost ($450).
And, as with most Toyota models, there is a range of additional factory-backed accessories that you can choose, such as a bonnet protector, boot scuff guard and even door handle protective film (to stop rings from scratching them up), but things like roof racks/roof rails or a roof pod are unavailable.
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.
Toyota Prius V
Powering the Prius V is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, which uses a CVT auto and combines with a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors. It’s what’s known as a series parallel hybrid set-up.
The system can allow the car to run using both the battery and engine, or just the battery, or have the regenerative braking system feed the battery pack more juice. That tech isn’t necessarily cutting edge today, but it was when the car launched (waaaaay back in 2012).
The engine can produce 100kW of power and 142Nm of torque. The electric motor can produce 73kW on its own, but the maximum combined power output is still 100kW.
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.
Toyota Prius V
Obviously if you are considering a hybrid, you’re looking to take advantage of excellent fuel consumption. And the Prius V doesn’t disappoint.
The claimed consumption is just 4.4 litres per 100km. In the real world, you can expect to use about 5.5L/100km if you’re light on the throttle, and 6.5L/100km if you thrash it.
You can’t skimp on the fuel when you get to the bowser, though - the Prius V insists on running using 95 RON premium unleaded.
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.
Toyota Prius V
If you’re a car geek like me, you likely find driving as efficiently as you can fun. If so, you'll love this. You can watch the car switching between EV mode - which it will use for up to about 30km/h, but only for a couple of minutes - and hybrid power. And honestly, if you’ve never driven a hybrid you might think it sounds dumb, but being a fuel miser can be fun!
But the fun factor is pretty much limited to being a cheapskate on fuel. It really isn’t that fun to drive otherwise, but that’s not what it’s designed for.
Still, the drivetrain does a decent enough job for most families - it builds pace pretty easily, and while the refinement and power could be better, if you’re not aiming to break records on the school run, you shouldn’t be too disappointed.
The ride is mostly good, though it can be a little sharp over patchy surfaces, and the steering is decent, if a little lifeless. My biggest issue is the brake pedal response, which takes some getting used to. Sometimes it feels like it won’t stop quick enough.
That, and the adaptive cruise control doesn’t slow to a stop on the highway - it cuts out at about 30km/h, so you’ve gotta be on your toes if the traffic starts to build up.
If you want the latest and greatest in hybrid family friendliness, you really ought to wait for the new-generation RAV4, which - admittedly - mightn’t have seven seats, but it will have a hybrid drivetrain offered. And it’ll be much more modern inside and out.
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.
Toyota Prius V
Every Prius V still carries the same maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating that it was stamped with in 2015, even though the car was actually tested in 2012.
The range is covered with the safety systems you’d expect, including electronic stability control, ABS, electronic brake distribution, plus there’s a reversing camera, too. Rear parking sensors are a dealer-fit accessory.
There was a bit of back-and-forth between myself and Toyota Australia over airbag coverage. The company stated on its public site that the car had curtain airbag coverage all the way to the third row, but no image to support that. I’ve since had it confirmed by Toyota Australia that it does definitely have third-row airbag coverage, which is a great added piece of mind element for family buyers (plus there are dual front, driver knee and front side airbags, too).
Airbags are one thing, but what about the other safety kit? Well, every Prius V has Toyota’s Safety Sense plus system, with auto emergency braking (AEB), pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam lights and lane-departure warning.
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.
Toyota Prius V
It’s cheap to run a Prius V in terms of its fuel use, and it’s cheap to run in terms of its maintenance, too. Toyota lists its charges at just $140 per visit to the dealer under the Service Advantage offer, though you’ll need to take it in every six months or 10,000km.
The warranty cover is three years or 100,000km for the car, but the hybrid battery attracts an eight-year/160,000km cover of its own.