Three months and nearly 5,000km trod under its wheels, and our long-term Volvo S90 has finally left the wheels HQ. So now, as is customary, it’s time for our final verdict on the BMW 5 Series rival.  And in the interest of good old whinging, let’s start with the problems we faced.

The stop-start system is not the most intuitive or smooth; there is a noticeable judder every time the engine shuts down and restarts. Combine that with an automatic brake hold function, which isn’t the most decisive, and the S90 is annoying in stop-and-go traffic. Irritatingly, the stop-start system is switched on by default, and since it does not have a physical button, you have to turn it off from the infotainment system every time. Or you can simply switch the car to Dynamic mode. So the feature that’s designed to conserve fuel, makes you burn more.

The AC, as features writer Imran Malik pointed out, also makes quite a racket, while the lane-keep feature is pretty aggressive with its steering corrections — although the sensitivity of the latter can be reduced.

On the upside though, the S90 is now perhaps the only car in its class that can give the German trio of Audi, BMW and Mercedes a serious run for their money.
It looks unlike anything in the segment, and in a hugely positive way. The front fascia is striking with its ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED running lights, while the rear is more interesting in its execution than the Teutons.

It’s larger than a BMW 5 Series and is therefore hugely spacious inside. But on the go, it’s much more balanced than you’d expect it to be. The twin-charged engine may only be a four-pot, but it’s plenty potent to move the S90 in a hurry. It doesn’t scrape its door handles in the corners either, and the balance of ride comfort and handling is superb.

The cabin, meanwhile, is also well built and, in my opinion, looks much more interesting than its rivals’.

Granted, at Dh250K it’s not cheap, but the S90 feels every bit worth the outlay. In no way is it a lesser alternative to the Teutons, and this is just the first-gen car. If my business card had the words ‘Audi’, ‘BMW’ or ‘Mercedes’ on it, I would be genuinely concerned right now.


The progress

Week 12
Arabic editor Fadi gets back in the S90 and agrees with Kinan’s verdict on the Volvo. He thinks it drives well and the cabin is very spacious and comfortable.

Highs: Great overall family saloon

lows: Engine a little gruff at low revs

Week 11
Web content editor Kinan takes the S90 for the week and he reckons it is the only car in its class that can rival the Germans. The speed limit indicator on the head-up display is not always accurate though.

Highs: A true alternative to German premium saloons

Lows: Wonky speed limit warning