MALAGA, Spain – After languishing for a decade as a rarely considered premium sedan, the ’17 Volvo S90 is completely new from the ground up and ready to climb into a higher segment where it hopes to challenge the best in the world for luxury-car supremacy.

Coming on the heels of the highly successful launch of the XC90 large CUV – and drawing on that much-lauded model for most of its chassis, powertrain and interior parts – the S90 has a great chance of making good on its marketing promises of “relaxed confidence” and “legendary comfort” topped off by assured occupant safety.

Just don’t get into a drag race with your neighbor’s BMW 5-Series, because the S90 T6 isn’t built with all-out performance as its guiding principle. Rather, this latest iteration of the “Scandinavian Sanctuary” is a calm boulevard cruiser with the ability to quicken the pulse when necessary, but not as a primary mission.

We sampled the new 4-door as well as its V90 sport wagon sibling on a variety of routes in southern Spain, from wide-open winding mountainous roads to congested urban thoroughfares that provided ample opportunity to get a feel for the car’s powertrain and driving character while also testing its myriad driver-assistance and safety systems.

After a year of extensive exposure to the XC90 – a winner of both Wards 10 Best Engines and Wards 10 Best Interiors awards in 2016 – we’re quite familiar with the latest Volvo has to offer, from its calming interior to its playing-above-its-weight-class 316-hp, 295-lb.-ft. (400-Nm) turbocharged and supercharged 2.0L I-4 engine.

The S90 offers more of the same but in a lighter weight and sportier package with a lower seating position that automatically gives the S90 a more sophisticated feel. Dropping 547 lbs. (248 kg) from the curb weight compared to the XC90 doesn’t hurt either. While the CUV is no slouch at 6.5 seconds 0-60 mph (97 km/h), the sedan does the same sprint in just 5.7 seconds and feels very responsive in the process.

From the outside, the S90 projects a strong and planted appearance but without straying too far from the sedate sedan styling synonymous with Volvo. Still evident are the long hood, short tail and abrupt front and rear cuts common in past Volvo designs, yet this take is more rounded and softened to create a less boxy and far more handsome appearance.

The unmistakable upright Volvo grille, partly a concession to pedestrian-collision mitigation and partly a Volvo heritage cue, is there, along with the sweeping C-pillar sail and the Swedish company’s unique rear side-glass contour that adds an extra kink to BMW’s Hofmeister.

A strong beltline runs front to rear, defining the car’s upper sill, while a lower swage line breaks up the typical Volvo slab-sided look and helps reduce the sedan’s visual height. Tisha Johnson, senior director-design, says the swoopy profile is derived from the coupe-like lines established in the Volvo Concept Coupe revealed at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show.

Wraparound taillamps surround the trunk lid at the rear, while Volvo’s trademark “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights define the front corners. A horizontal, concave take on the traditional multi-bar Volvo grille echoes the Volvo P1800 from the 1960s.