Currently reading: Matt Prior: please stop asking "how well did we do?"
Usually, when someone has to ask "how well are we doing?" the answer is "not very well". Matt Prior shares his thoughts

The Toyota Verso has been axed in Europe. I know, you didn’t realise it was still on sale, right?

It seems that SUVs, 4x4s and other crossovers continue to decimate the once-ubiquitous ‘people carrier’ segment. Traditionally, MPVs are big, boring and dull to drive. Something, I reckoned, we wouldn’t miss too much. The kind of vehicle you’d dissuade people who like cars and driving from buying.

But the alternative is a crossover: big, boring, dull, etc – and it doesn’t even have the excuse of being spacious. Another case of being careful what you wish for.

Stop asking me about the service

‘How did we do?’ has reached peak irritation. I thought the apogee was airport security, which has a range of smiley-faced buttons on exit so you can push one that accurately reflects how pleasing, or otherwise, the experience was.

And yet the screening process is always exactly the same. The  only thing that differs is how many people queuing for it were apparently unaware they were queuing for it until they reached the conveyer. So what you’re really being asked is how irritating other people are and, as we all know, other people are often very, very irritating.

But that has been surpassed with new peak feedback nonsense, via a text from my local GP, which has arrived to interfere with the deadline of this very column by asking ‘how likely I would be to recommend the surgery to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?’.

Hmm. The pass mark here is pretty low, isn’t it? If you’re so ill that you need to see a GP, I’m ‘1: extremely likely’ to recommend seeing one, even if it’s a bit of a ball-ache (pleased to report neither the cause nor case here). There’s one surgery in town and, if you’re registered to it, and if you’re ill enough to need it, how bad does it have to be that I’d be ‘5: extremely unlikely to recommend’? “Well there was a bit of a wait, Jeff. I’d let that fester until it’s an A&E case.”

Which brings me (belatedly) to cars. Over the years I’ve had work done on Autocar long-term fleet cars, usually at franchised dealers, plus my own cars and motorbikes, usually not. Recently I had some warranty work completed on a long-termer, which was all fine, but it was followed up by three emails and two phone calls asking what I thought of the service. None of which answered my question: ‘What was actually wrong with the car?’ They’re banging away to receive a score but nobody’s listening. And this stuff all takes effort. More, I wonder, than just doing the job in the first place? Please stop asking. Less asking. More doing.

Curiously, the best service I’ve had, for tyres and repairs, have been from places that don’t waste their time asking how good they were. They just get on with it. But it is, I suppose, the inevitable mission-creep of ‘what do you think?’ culture, once harmlessly inflicting local radio stations you could easily ignore but now unavoidable on several dozen occasions every single day.


Read our review

Car review

Appealing to some, thanks to a fine balance of quality, space and refinement, but rarely thrilling to be in

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I don’t know who started it and I don’t know who encourages it. But anyway, if you enjoyed this column, there will be options to like, share, subscribe and give feedback liberally dotted around this web page. For which I’m so very, very sorry.

Read more: 

Alfa Romeo Giulia to be backed by upgraded aftersales service

Land Rover is top car maker in customer service survey

Undercover car shoppers: the buyers who check up on dealerships

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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scotty5 31 August 2018


I'll give you 2 out of 5 for that article.

jason_recliner 31 August 2018

One of your best columns IMO

"The pass mark here is pretty low, isn’t it? If you’re so ill that you need to see a GP, I’m ‘1: extremely likely’ to recommend seeing one, even if it’s a bit of a ball-ache"

This made me laugh heartily indeed! Perfect for the bus ride home at the end of the week.

Thanks Matt.

Tom Chet 31 August 2018

MPV vs Crossover => Peugeot 5008

Completely with you on the consequences of the decline of the MPV (as a father of three)...

They are, in general, dull but they are sooo functional.  We had a VW Touran which did the job but when we looked for a new car the wife demanded something that looked less appliance-like.  So we ended up with a Volvo XC90, which has been brilliant and lauded as the most MPV-ish of the big SUVs.  BUT... what a waste to have lugged all that 4x4 kit around for so many years, never used, increasing weight and eating into space.

Which brings me to... the latest Peugeot 5008.  This has got to be the solution: a FWD MPV that looks like an SUV.  It has all the space efficiency of an MPV without any of the compromises of being engineered to accomodate a 4x4 system (e.g. superfluous transmission tunnels) yet doesn't look as dull as an MPV. 

Please can more car makers do the same: 99% of us NEVER need 4wd.