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Forget Ford Falcon XR8 and Holden Commodore SS, here are the patrol cars you might not be aware the police are driving in 2021

Not your average Ford or Holden... today's police are patrolling in some exotic and expensive machinery to get the job done.

For more than 70 years up, the choice would have been easy for our nation’s law-enforcement agencies seeking patrol vehicles: buy Australian-made. 

Except it wasn’t that simple. In the Post-War era, American Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and Studebaker V8s assembled here were the tools of trade, until the faster and lighter six-cylinder Valiants and Falcons of the mid-1960s started to gain favour.

Heading into the ‘70s, as long as it was built in Australia, you’d also see Mini Coopers, Ford Cortina GTs and later Holden Toranas also on service, before alternating Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores brought us the golden era of police cars.

Nowadays, with no more full-vehicle manufacturing in Australia, this is no longer possible, but a varied array of other cars and SUVs is vying for that top cop dollar. For their manufacturers, it can be lucrative, great publicity and – if they’re good enough – a steady sales stream.

Here are several post-Falcon and Commodore police vehicles currently doing the rounds.

BMW 530d

A menacing sight fast approaching in your rearview mirror, the BMW 530d isn’t an obvious choice for police pursuit work, but the figures speak for themselves.

From what we know, a 195kW/620Nm 3.0-litre inline six-pot diesel driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed auto provides both exceptional acceleration (0-100km/h in about 5.7 seconds) and impressive economy (under 5.0L/100km) – the latter a fraction of what the big Aussie Ford and Holden V8s managed, while keeping up with them one that turbo starts spooling up.

And while some people may baulk at the notion of the cops driving expensive Bavarian luxury sedans, these come custom-built so are ready for action – while most other vehicles are not.

Mercedes-Benz E400d All-Terrain

Not available to the public, the E400d All-Terrain wagon is Germany’s answer to the Subaru Outback – of sorts – and is also pretty much also ready to work right out of the box from Stuttgart.

Powered by a 250kW/700Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel, it can rumble to 100km/h in around 5.0-seconds flat. This too is comparable to the old local V8 numbers, but with half the fuel consumption to boot.

But this beast isn’t just about speed and economy. The standard all-wheel drive system, combined with exceptional ground clearance, provides surer grip in inclement conditions. There’s space aplenty for all the required police gear. And the brand’s safety systems are second-to-none.

Genesis G80

We’ve heard of at least one Genesis G80 doing the rounds out west. And why not?

Priced like a base BMW 3 Series but larger than a 5 Series, the G80 is a big, solid and spacious highway cruiser offering comfort and refinement for our hard-working law enforcers needing to do their job without stress or fatigue.

Under the bonnet is a 232kW/397Nm 3.8-litre V6 that – while unable to match the trad V8s with a ho-hum 6.5 seconds to 100 – can still hit 240km/h in cushy and quiet luxury. We might see more Genesis on duty in the not-too-distant-future, too.

Volvo XC60

For that Nordic noir crime-drama look, you cannot go past a liveried Volvo XC60 – and we know of at least one department in NSW that has succumbed to the Swedish SUV’s designer appeal.

Which iteration of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is employed is unknown, but the current T8 plug-in hybrid delivers just over 2.1L/100km, as well as a whopping 311kW and 670Nm to all four wheels, for a 0-100km/h result of 5.2 seconds. Outstanding numbers there.

Except… we’re uncertain how long the XC60 can cut it as a pursuit SUV, however, given Volvo’s 2020 announcement that all its vehicles will be speed-limited to “just” 180km/h. You can’t beat Swedish sense but law-breakers might be able to out-run them.

Read More About Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger V6

Perhaps the closest model in spirit to the VF Commodore SS or Falcon XR6 Turbo, the rear-drive Kia Stinger is a common sight doing the rounds on Queensland, Western Australian, Northern Territory and Tasmanian roads.

A low-slung but long interior provides space and comfort, the liftback offers a handy area for bulky procedural equipment, and the 272kW/510Nm 3.3-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 punches out ample, thumping thrust – as well as 100km/h in only 5.1 seconds. The Stinger is a cracking drive.

Finally, there’s the Kia’s reasonable pricing, since it’s the only non-premium brand on this list. And you can't overlook the company's famous seven-year warranty for the force to fall back on either.

Volkswagen Passat 206TSI Proline

A regular sight as highway patrol vehicles nowadays is the Volkswagen Passat 206TSI Proline. Indeed, there are currently hundreds on duty in Victoria alone, with most states also following suit.

Not your regular 140kW German Camry, this beast is tuned for – yep – 206kW of power, as well as 350Nm from its worked 2.0-litre four-pot turbo, for an impressive sub-6.0s sprint time to 100km/h.

4Motion AWD also provides another layer of security at speed, while the roomy and comfortable cabin can accommodate all the police equipment necessary to get the job done.

A stalwart for police work in its home country for nearly 50 years, the Passat’s future with our law enforcements looks assured.

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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