Toyota Camry VS Skoda Octavia
- Sharp new looks
- Drivetrain options for all
- Great handling
- Signs of cost-cutting inside
- Headroom a bit snug
- Non-folding rear seats
- Good value
- Nice to drive
- Sport by name and nature
- Option packs abound
- Uglier than predecessor
- Materials a little cheap
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 Skoda Octavia 2018 range offers buyers unparalleled pragmatism, and a broad range of options to suit varied budgets.
It may not be as attractive as it was prior to its most recent facelift, but there is plenty to like if you can look beyond the challenging front-end design.
There's the choice of a five-door hatchback (which looks like a sedan), or a five-door station wagon - and with Skoda buyers being pragmatic, the wagon is the more popular body style. So that's what we've got here, and in the new Sport trim line.
Consider yourself intrigued? Read on to find out more.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
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.
The Skoda Octavia 2018 Sport wagon may run the same 110TSI drivetrain as the regular base model car, but its chassis and design tweaks make it a worthwhile model to consider if you want something that stands out a little bit from the rest of the Octavia pack.
If you want an RS wagon but can't afford one, you really ought to take a look at this car.
Would you consider a wagon over a hatchback? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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.
I didn't like the new look for the Octavia when Skoda revealed it early in 2017, and I wasn't alone. The once-handsome Czech mid-size model had been taken to with the ugly stick, with the dual-headlight look appearing to make the model look, well, nothing like a model.
In some colour combinations it's not too bad - a red RS245 with the black gloss grille, for example, looks tidy. But the Octavia Sport model you see here in white just looked a little bit… spidery, I'd say. Yeah, spidery.
The Sport model is accentuated by black pinstripes here and there, and look, I reckon the design of the wagon is a lot more becoming than the hatch. But if you value style as much as substance, consider the svelte Mazda6 is available for close to the same money…
The dimensions of the Skoda Octavia vary between the hatch and wagon, and the regular model vs the RS - yep, there's a bit of a size difference, but it's pretty miniscule. Here are the main numbers you need to know.
The hatch is 4670mm long (2686mm wheelbase), 1461mm tall and 1814mm wide. The regular wagon isn't as long at 4667mm (2686mm wheelbase), but sits a bit taller (1465mm) and is the same width (1814mm).
Thankfully the interior dimensions are accommodating, and the design in the cabin is very, very smart.
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.
Skoda is a marvel when it comes to interior packaging, and the Octavia is perhaps the most impressive exponent of this. It really packs a lot in to relatively compact dimensions.
Boot space is perhaps one of the biggest advantages to the Octavia, with the hatch's luggage capacity spanning 568 litres, and the wagon offering up 588L (that measurement is to the window line). There's a spare wheel under the boot floor (you get a space-saver in RS models) and the back end features a dual-sided mat so you can put damp items in the back without damaging the carpet.
Of course there's a couple of clever inclusions like flip-down shopping bag hooks, remote release levers for the split fold seats (they go down in a 60:40 fashion, and there's a clever ski-port for loading through longer items), and there's a dual-action cargo blind. You get a mesh net system, a removable torch and an umbrella, too.
Plus the space on offer for occupants is very good. A family of five, plus luggage, will fit in here easily, with the back seat offering enough rear legroom, headroom and shoulder room for adults, too. With the driver's seat in my driving position (I'm 182cm) I had easily enough room to sit comfortably.
Storage is well thought out, too, with bottle holders in all four doors, map pockets in the back, rear air-vents and a flip-down armrest with cupholders. The materials aren't as plush as you'll find in a Volkswagen Golf or a Mazda6, but they're not scratchy or harsh.
Up front there are big door pockets, a pair of shallow cupholders, a good sized box in front of the gearshifter for your phone and wallet, and a reasonable glove box.
The media system in our test vehicle was the upgraded 9.2-inch unit, which is crisp to look at an offers good resolution, plus the added usability that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can't be ignored. But the lack of a volume knob is frustrating, and it can be hard to figure out if you should be pressing Home or Menu when navigating through the systems array of pages.
Price and features
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.
One of the main reasons you might be drawn to the Skoda Octavia is its attractive pricing. So, how much does the the mid-size model cost?
Without running through the full price list of the Skoda Octavia models sold in Australia, we can tell you that Skoda prefers to deal in drive-away pricing, so that's what you see here.
The base model Octavia is pretty well equipped, with niceties such as an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a cooled glovebox, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
The wagon model has silver roof rails, but sadly, there's a chrome strip at the nose end, and this model comes with halogen headlights but the tail-lights are LED units. Standard-spec Octavias come with 17-inch alloy wheels, and all Octavias get front fog lights.
The Sport model costs more, with the hatchback version listing at $32,990 drive-away, and the wagon priced at $34,490 drive-away. Both of these are auto-only, though.
In comparison to the entry-grade model, the Sport adds auto LED headlights with adaptive lighting and LED daytime running lights, auto wipers, an extra pair of airbags (for rear side protection) and it rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Sport models have different front seats with integrated headrests (still manually adjustable), privacy glass, and the seatbelts feature a tightening feature if the car's computer predicts a crash (the windows wind up, and if there's a sunroof, it'll close).
Plus the Sport has a black pack, including black door mirror caps, plus side and tailgate decals, there's a rear spoiler (black for the hatch model and body-colour for the wagon), and it rides on a lower sports suspension set-up. The Sport wagon has black roof rails.
If you're interested, the RS model line-up consists of a few different variants. The petrol manual hatch costs $41,990 drive-away, the petrol auto hatch is $44,490 drive-away, and the diesel auto hatch is $45,590 drive-away. Add $1500 for a wagon.
Then there are the top of the range RS245 models, with extra punch and more kit again. The sporty petrol-only RS245 model costs $46,490 for the manual hatch, and $48,990 for the auto hatch. Wagon versions add $1500.
Some notable elements: you need to option keyless entry and push-button start, no matter the model you choose, and a sunroof will cost you $1500 for the hatchback and $1700 for the wagon. You can get a power tailgate as an option on all trim grades of the wagon, too, at $500.
Now, option packs.
The 'Tech Pack' consists of the upgrade to the 9.2-inch screen with nav, LED headlights, semi-automated parking, adaptive chassis control (on RS and RS245 models only), keyless entry and push-button start, 10-speaker Canton audio, drive mode select (already on RS and RS245 models), manoeuvre braking assist (auto braking in reverse), and a driver profile set-up (already on RS and RS245 models).
The Tech Pack costs $4900 for the entry-grade car, $3900 for the Sport model, and $2300 for RS versions.
The other main pack is the 'Luxury Pack', which adds leather trim (base car; N/A Sport) and electric seat adjustment (base model and RS; N/A Sport), Alcantara/leather trim (RS; N/A Sport), heated front and rear seats, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, the added rear airbags (base model only), and auto folding door mirrors with dimming and puddle lights. This pack costs $4200 for the base grade, $1600 for the Sport model $2800 for the RS, $1500 for RS245.
For those playing along at home, the model you see in these images is the Octavia 110TSI Sport wagon, fitted with the Tech Pack and an electric sunroof.
The other choice you'll need to make is on colours, with metallic paint adding $500. Check out Skoda's configurator to see if you like it in red, white, silver, blue, grey, green or black. There's no gold, brown or yellow, but there's a lightish beige hue called 'Cappuccino', which you can't get on higher-spec versions.
Engine & trans
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).
There are three drivetrains to choose from in the 2018 Octavia range, and the specifications step up as you move up the range.
Base grade models and the Sport variant have the 110TSI 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 110kW of power (5000-6000rpm) and 250Nm (1500-3500rpm). It is available with the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission in the base grade, but the Sport model is auto only. If you want more horsepower from your motor, you'll need to go for the RS.
There is no diesel option for the lower grades, and every model in the Octavia range sold in Australia is front-wheel drive (FWD / 2WD). In some markets there are all wheel drive (AWD) models sold, but there isn't a proper 4x4 version with a low range transfer case in any market, though. There is no LPG model sold here, either.
Now, if you think you might consider towing with your Octavia, you'll need to know its capabilities - and towing capacity varies across the range.
The 110TSI hatch has a 620kg un-braked trailer weight capacity or 1500kg for a braked trailer (manual or auto); the 110TSI manual wagon can deal with 630kg/1500kg, while the DSG wagon is good for 640kg/1500kg.
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.
Fuel economy is good for the 110TSI model we're testing, with claimed consumption rated at 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the DSG hatch and wagon, while the 110TSI manual hatch uses 5.4L/100km and the 110TSI manual wagon claims 5.5L/100km.
Fuel tank capacity for all models is 50 litres, and your mileage will vary depending on how hard you drive. Based on my time in the 1.4-litre Sport wagon, I was going to do about 650km on a tank, with at the bowser fuel consumption measured at 7.3L/100km. The dashboard display was reading 7.2L/100km.
The Octavia requires 95RON premium unleaded fuel at a minimum.
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.
What makes the Octavia Sport worthy of that much-lauded, oft-overused badge?
Well, it feels pretty sporty to drive, with the MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension both getting the harder-edge tune and sitting a few mm lower to the ground as a result (be aware of the car's ground clearance - it is lower, but it's not suctioned to the ground like a sports car).
The regular Octavia model was already at the pointy end of the segment for dynamics and comfort, but this Sport version is more dialled into the surface below, with the combination of the stiffer chassis and the bigger wheels with grippy Bridgestone Potenza 225/40/18 rubber rewarding the driver, albeit at a slight penalty in terms of outright ride comfort. You can link bends together with ease, and the turning circle is pretty tight, meaning parking moves are easy enough.
The way the Octavia Sport finds its way through corners, almost telepathically, will have you thinking you've got more grunt than the 110TSI's outputs suggest - that comes down to the refinement at speed, where the torque of the small engine keeps momentum as the dual-clutch auto shifts clinically between gears. There are no paddle-shifters, but there's a manual mode to flick up or down on the shifter, and there are a few drive modes to choose from, each adjusting the throttle response and gearing. Sport was great, but Normal was where I spent most of my time.
In Normal mode there's a bit of stuttering at lower speeds when you're on and off the throttle, but it isn't as much of a deal-breaker as it might have been with earlier iterations of dual-clutch autos. Just make sure that if you're considering the Octavia (or any new car, for that matter!), that you test drive the car extensively, and try to put it through your regular day-to-day routine.
As with many examples of cars built on the Volkswagen MQB modular architecture, there is some road noise - especially on coarse-chip surfaces. I didn't find it hard to live with - I just turned up the volume on the sound system.
Over a week of commuting, driving in and around Sydney and more than a few hours on the city's motorways, I came away convinced that if I couldn't stretch to the RS, I'd be pretty happy in the Sport model.
Need more? Want a quicker 0-100 acceleration time, more speed, and better performance figures, and independent rear suspension? You really ought to read my review of the RS245 wagon.
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.
All Skoda Octavia models currently on sale are still covered by the car's 2016 five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating.
Safety features across all models include a reversing camera and rear parking sensors (with a visual park assist display), auto emergency braking (AEB), multi-collision brake, tyre pressure monitoring, fatigue detection and adaptive cruise control.
Of course, every model in the range comes with outboard ISOFIX child-seat anchor points in the back seats, and there are three top-tether attachment points, too.
Airbags for the Octavia are seven for the regular model (dual front, front side, driver's knee and full-length curtain) and nine for RS models (added rear-side protection). The extra airbags can be added to entry-grade models as part of the Luxury Pack, which will also bring lane keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring.
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.
The Skoda vehicle range is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which is better than its parent company VW offers in Australia, and matches the likes of Mazda, which only recently upped its warranty plan. There's no extended warranty option, though.
The Czech brand allows customers to pre-pay their service costs by choosing one of its 'Service Packs, the cost of which can be bundled into finance or outright purchase price. The plans are three years/45,000km ($1150 no matter the model) or five years/75,000km ($2250 for non-RS models; $2700 for RS models).
The other option for customers is to pay for their maintenance as they go using capped price servicing for up to six years/90,000km. The average service cost for a standard Octavia is $416.50 and $453 for RS models, but that's before additional consumables like brake fluid. Also worth noting that the alarm system needs to be replaced every six years, at a cost of $411 - that might need to be considered in your resale value estimates.
If you're concerned about common faults, problems or issues you may encounter check out our Skoda Octavia problems page. The value of a page like this is that it goes beyond standard features to give you a gauge of the reliability rating for the vehicle.