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Cop watch: Police size up 2023 Subaru Outback XT turbo as possible permanent replacement for Holden Commodore SS V8 pursuit cars

As our rendering shows, the Subaru Outback XT turbo looks tailor-made for highway patrol work. It could be the complete package.

It’s only taken five years, but the police may have found the ideal pursuit vehicle to replace the trusty old Holden Commodore SS V8, in the unlikely shape of the Subaru Outback Turbo.

Spotted by an eagle-eyed CarsGuide reader in Melbourne last month, several representatives of the Victoria Police were observed pouring over examples of the newly-released flagship version of the popular high-riding crossover wagon from Japan.

While there is no confirmation as to whether a deal has been done, it is believed that the Subaru is a front runner as a pursuit vehicle for a number of reasons.

These include strong performance from the XT’s newly-released 2.4-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder petrol engine, which pumps out 183kW of power and 350Nm of torque – a big jump over the regular Outback’s 138kW/245Nm 2.5-litre naturally aspirated outputs.

Additionally, the Outback’s permanent all-wheel-drive system provides excellent traction in the adverse weather conditions that many police pursuit vehicles encounter. This, along with a lofty 213mm of ground clearance, add another layer of safety and security for personnel, particularly out in rural areas when driving along gravel roads or tracks.

Size is also on the Subaru’s side. Police representatives have previously revealed to CarsGuide that the need to package the extensive in-car equipment is another deciding factor when assessing potential vehicle candidates, something that the near-4.9-metre long, 1.9m wide and 1.7m tall Outback can easily accommodate.

Finally, the XT’s 2400kg braked towing capacity makes it a handy vehicle for hauling horse floats, boats and other trailered equipment, plugging a gap between regular passenger cars and medium-sized utes like the Ford Ranger Divvy Vans. That’s 400kg more than the regular naturally aspirated Outback, by the way.

The XT produces 183kW/350Nm – a big jump over the regular Outback.

It’s worth noting that, along with extra pulling muscle, the XT turbo versions gain stronger brakes and a unique suspension calibration that includes new front spring rates and revised rear dampers.  

If the Victoria Police do end up going with Subaru and you’re wondering if the Outback you are following in traffic is an unmarked pursuit car, look for the dual exhaust pipes and six-element LED fog lights.

This is far from the first time that a police department has looked closely at Subarus.

It was said that police struggled to keep up with WRXs in their Holden VT SS V8s. (Image credit: New South Wales Historic Patrol Vehicles)

In the 1990s and 2000s, the earlier Impreza WRX models were deployed sporadically as highway patrol cars, particularly along the east coast, owing to their nimble handling and outstanding roadholding. It’s even been said that police struggled to keep up with WRXs in their Holden VT SS V8s.

Fun fact: It is said that the NSW police initially rejected the WRXs when they were first released in Australia in 1994, due to them being manual-only at the time, so the importer brought in special-build automatic lots just for the law-enforcement agencies. The general public could not buy a WRX auto until late 1996.

Among other models, Victoria Police have been using the BMW 5 Series as highway patrol vehicles, as well as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain wagon, Volkswagen Tiguan and VW Passat.

Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC...
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