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Have you ever wondered what goes into making a car a modern police car?
Aside from the obvious lights and sirens, what needs to be changed or beefed up to cope with a life of crime busting?
The loss of our home-grown car-makers has forced Aussie police forces into using imported vehicles, and while many manufacturers offer an off-the-shelf `police pack’ the details of these are often tightly held secrets.
Certainly, that’s the case in Australia, but a couple of brands, Volkswagen and Hyundai, are more forthcoming with what goes into turning a Passat wagon or a Sonata sedan into a law enforcement special.
And interestingly, local input at the specification stage is playing a part.
Even though VW has a global law-enforcement package for the Passat, there’s some Aussie input that goes into the examples patrolling the roads in this country.
The basis of the Passat police special is what VW calls its Proline option.
Based on the Passat 132TSI (currently being upgraded to the 140TSI) the vehicle is available in a range of variants around the world with options including a weapons rack, encrypted radio and first aid kits.
In Victoria, where the bulk of these vehicles operate, the police force specified an upgraded (180-Watt) alternator, while VW Australia worked with the factory in Germany to develop a second battery and a specific wiring loom.
Lumen Australia manufactures the loom for VicPol and also fits the second battery.
But the Passat deal doesn’t stop there in Victoria, where the high-performance Passat 206 Proline is also used by the Highway Patrol.
With all-wheel drive and an engine tuned for 206kW and 350Nm, the VW Highway Patrol cars can get to 100km/h in under six seconds, which puts them on a more or less equal footing with the bulk of HP Commodores and Falcons that went before them.
You have been warned.
At the moment, VW supplies police cars to forces in Victoria, Queensland, SA, WA and Tasmania, with Victoria being its biggest customer with 760 VWs on fleet right now, of which about half are Passats.
VW has also developed a global-specification first-responder vehicle based on the Tiguan Allspace Comfortline which is designed to get people and equipment into an emergency situation quickly and safely.
VW then adds a bigger alternator, an adjustable floor in the cargo area, stiffer suspension, off-road style bumpers to improve approach and departure angles, underbody armour, tyre-pressure monitoring, active-support seats and a few additional bits of trim.
Victoria, ASA and WA police have all ordered the Tiguan Proline with deliveries to start next month.
Hyundai also supplies police vehicles to both Victoria and NSW, and while the Santa Fe general-duties cars in Victoria are mechanically stock, there are a few minor interior trim changes made to allow for the fitment of the police communications gear.
More interestingly, the Sonatas Hyundai supplies to the NSW Police Force are an Australian one-off with a mix and match of mechanical and trim items from the broader Sonata line-up.
Fundamentally, the cars use the turbocharged 180kW, eight-speed auto Sonata Premium driveline but in the base-model Active trim package, which includes cloth seats and does away with items such as chrome door handles, LED headlights and privacy curtains.
Hyundai Australia took the NSW Police wish-list and successfully approached head office in South Korea to produce the one-offs which now keep the NSW cops mobile.
Of course, Hyundai has long had such a two-way relationship with South Korea, beginning when Hyundai Australia instigated local development of its suspension systems for models destined Down Under.