From seriously inept faux-premium trash-boxes of the Ford era, Volvo has recently transformed itself into a serious contender in the luxury segment. And the charge that began with the all-new Volvo XC90, winner of our 2016 Car of the Year award, continues with this, the S90 saloon.

Aimed squarely at the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the S90 is thrust straight into the thick end of the battle. To take down these stalwarts isn’t a task that’s easily accomplished but, boy, does the S90 surprise.

Our long-termer is the fully loaded T6 all-wheel drive Inscription version and retails for a very precise Dh279,999. Which is not a small amount of money and it’s about what you would expect to pay for a middling version of the aforementioned Bimmer and Merc. However, as part of a promotional deal, Trading Enterprises, the Volvo dealership in the UAE, is currently putting up the 20 per cent down payment. In dirham terms that’s a meaty Dh56,000.

The tester packs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine boosted by a turbocharger as well as a supercharger. While it’s not as smooth as, say, a BMW four pot, it delivers a serious amount of grunt at 320bhp and 400Nm of torque. As a result, the S90 is delightfully brisk off the mark, and in gear acceleration is also substantial.

It has loads of kit too, although I still find the iPad-aping central touchscreen a little unintuitive to work. It looks upscale and thoroughly modern, while the reversing camera is perhaps the sharpest I’ve seen in any car recently. It also boasts semi-autonomous driving capability, which I reckon works fine in a straight line but falls short somewhat around bends; the system gives up far too easily.

The cabin, though, is sublime. The design in minimalist yet upscale and the quality of materials used matches or beats German cars.

So first impressions, as you’ve probably gathered by now, are largely positive. But whether that continues to be the case over the course of the next two months remains to be seen. More next week.