If general practice is to survive and flourish, there has to be greater co-operation between practices. A successful group of GPs who run efficient clinics may well look at sharing their skills.
A merger with another practice that has a good reputation but offers different services could be a smart move. However, what would not be so clever would be to ignore and change the established ‘brand’ of that practice. A loyal patient base and good relationships with the local community has immense value.
The value and power of established and respected brands is clearly demonstrated in the commercial world of motoring. When the Chinese business group Geely bought Volvo from Ford in 2010, it knew exactly what it was getting and has been investing heavily in new models to build on the solid reputation of this iconic Swedish brand.
Most of us have a mental image of a Volvo that takes the form of a boxy but practical estate car with excellent safety features and rock-solid build quality. The 240 from the 1970s and the 740 from the 1980s were popular choices for professional middle class families in a pre-SUV era.
Volvo estate cars have always sold well to the medical profession so does the very latest model still have relevance and appeal?
Well the first Volvo product to emerge as a result of Geely’s heavy investment was the technologically cutting edge all-new XC90 SUV. Now we have their latest offering, the V90; a large estate car to continue decades of established history.
Like the new XC90, it is only available with a choice of two four-cylinder diesel engines; the 187bhp 2.0-litre D4 and the 235bhp 2.4-litre D5. There are three trim levels and a choice of two or four-wheel drive. There is also a Cross-Country version. I have been testing the mid-range D4 Inscription model that is likely to be the biggest seller.
Pleasing on the eye
The styling of modern estate cars avoids the boxy looks of previous generations and the steeply raked tailgate of the new V90 follows this trend. Although you may lose out slightly on interior space, the result is far more pleasing to the eye. With Volvo’s signature Thor’s hammer running lights and an imposing front grille; there is great car-park appeal. It looks thoroughly modern, smart and upmarket.
Step inside and the light interior feels really contemporary with a 12.3-inch touchscreen that links the driver to a wide selection of cutting edge technology.
Comfortable seats and the use of high quality materials completes the business-class feel. Generous head and knee room similarly spoil rear seat passengers.
For an extra £400 you can specify the Family Pack, which adds a pair of integrated child booster seats to the rear bench. The standard powered tailgate opens a cavernous boot with automatically retracting load cover – another neat touch.
How does it drive?
So the V90 has all the practical attributes to impress as a family car but what how does it drive?
Well you rarely notice that the diesel engine has four-cylinders and is only 2.0-litres. When cold, it can be a bit clattery but at all other times the noise is subdued and the power output is always strong and immediate. Wind noise is also minimal and this, with the excellent smooth ride, makes the big Volvo a great motorway cruiser.
Handling on twisty roads is better than you would imagine; the use of lighter materials has made the V90 more agile. All versions are fitted with the latest version of Volvo’s Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control.
This system is another step towards autonomous driving and I have to say that I am very impressed. It pretty much drives the car for you at speeds of up to 80mph. It accelerates, brakes and can even steer for you (as long as you keep a hand on the steering wheel) in light or dense traffic. I tried it in a typical rush hour and it worked without fault and certainly reduced the stress of a journey like this.
When our increasingly normal busy traffic conditions have to be tackled on a regular basis, I think that we would all welcome such a feature. Well done Volvo; this is the future.
The new V90, like the XC90 before it, shows that Volvo’s new owners are doing great things for the brand. If you need a large estate car, it deserves your consideration. Look out for other new Volvos too. A new XC60 SUV is due in the UK before the end of 2017.
- Dr Rimmer is a GP from Surrey and tweets @frankaboutcars
|Volvo V90 D4 Inscription|
|Body Five seat estate car
Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
Power 187 bhp
Top speed 140mph
Acceleration 0-60mph in 8.2 secs
Claimed economy Combined 62.8 mpg
Claimed CO2 emissions 119g/km
On the road price From £37,995