Matt is Autocar’s chief car reviewer, and manager of the brand’s wider test team. Among his responsibilities is the regular contribution of detailed road tests, group tests, drive stores and other features for Autocar’s magazine and website, plus videos for Autocar’s YouTube channel. Matt maintains Autocar’s exacting standards of objectivity and rigour with the testing and assessment of all new cars, and leads the team’s collective conversation that drives the thinking on test verdicts and comparative judgements.
Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, having done work experience stints on the magazine beforehand, and was editorial assistant at Stuff Magazine from 2002. He’s been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s greatest and best-known writers and contributors over that time, and served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor before joining the road test desk in 2011.
Since then he’s driven, measured, figured and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce Phantom, Tesla Roadster, Ariel Hipercar, Tata Nano, Renault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. He loves the variety his job affords, and nothing matters more to him in his working role than understanding a car in its entirety, on behalf of those for whom it has been designed. Only by doing that can you earn the right to criticise.
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Matt Saunders Q&A
What was your biggest news story?
Autocar broke a world exclusive about a safety problem with the Suzuki Celerio city car that involved collapsing brake pedals; and I was in the car, at Millbrook proving ground in 2015, when it was first discovered. New road test recruit Lewis Kingston was learning our brake testing regime at the time, and got a shock he wasn’t expecting!
What’s the best car you’ve ever driven?
The answer changes every time I’m asked, the returning protagonists being the Ferraris 458 Speciale and 599 GTO, the McLarens F1 and Senna, and the Porsche ‘991’ 911R. But I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun than when driving an Ariel Atom 4 as fast as I possibly could. It’s exhausting, and a test of commitment; but exhilarating like absolutely nothing else.
What will the car industry look like in 20 years?
The ban on combustion engines will have been extended several times, and then abandoned. Synthetic fuels will have been made viable - not least by much more punitive taxes on petrol. Full electrification will have expanded hugely, but still have yet to penetrate beyond about 70 per cent of new car sales. And, while sales by volume will have fallen off, car enthusiasm will still be going strong. Because, as a very knowledgeable colleague once assured me, the very last new car that the world makes will be a sports car, made for the love of it.