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There was a time when the sight of a white Holden Commodore SS or Ford Falcon XR6 in your rearview mirror made you clench and glance down at your speedo just in case it was a disguised police car, but what unmarked pursuit and patrols vehicles are the boys and girls in blue driving now?
Even the most law-abiding, dear old granny would have to admit to liking TV crime shows. Yep, human beings are fascinated by cops and robbers stories, detective series and true crime podcasts.
Heck, one of the all-time most popular TV programs on the planet was about a German Shepherd promoted to the rank of Inspector.
Unmarked police cars are all part of the intrigue – these are the tools the law is using to catch the baddies and some of them are very tasty indeed.
Like the black Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT prowling NSW country roads. Out of the box, these monsters have a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 making 344kW and 624Nm, and with launch control and all-wheel drive getting that mumbo to the ground, they can hurl themselves from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
Another fast and Mopar-related unmarked NSW Police favourite is the Chrysler 300 SRT Core. We’ve spoken to retired NSW police who tell us this big American muscle car has many fans in the force for being powerful and comfortable. The 300 SRT Core has the same 6.4-litre V8 as the Grand Cherokee but pumps out 350kW.
It’s not just NSW having all the fun, with the Federal Police in the ACT going undercover in a BMW M3. The beastie in question is a 2019 M3 Competition (F80) which when new listed for $146,529. The five-seat mid-size super sedan has a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol straight-six producing 331kW and 600Nm and can go from behind a tree to your rear bumper in a blink of an eye - or 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds.
The Feds are also rolling in an BMW M340i, so if you think that Beemer behind you is just a spoilt ANU student driving the 21st present their parents surprised them with, then think again. Sure, it’s no M3, but there’d still be plenty of dibs on taking the M340i given it, too, has a 3.0-litre six and would only be half a second behind its big brother down the Hume at full pelt to 100km/h.
Keeping it German and prestigious is the Victorian Highway Patrol, who have a silver BMW 5 Series Touring on their discrete fleet. We’ve also seen VicPol getting around in an unmarked black Mercedes-Benz All-Terrain E400d. These are E-Class Estate wagons with all-wheel drive and 156mm of ground clearance, plus tough looking cladding. A 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel makes 250kW and 700Nm of torque, with 0-100km/h arriving in just 5.3 seconds.
South Australian police don’t appear to care about breaking any land speed records given SAPOL is currently trundling around in an undercover new-generation Kia Sorento. Going by the wheels, it’s the Sport grade and a smart choice for an unmarked car because nothing says family like a budget-end seven-seater in the optional Silky Silver paint. It’s also a steal with a list price of $49,470 – we’re guessing it’s a diesel, too.
Seriously, we’d love to see them go a step further and put an unmarked Kia Carnival into active duty.
The Queensland constabulary know their audience, choosing to catch you out in the previous-generation Isuzu D-Max. The one we’ve seen looks like the LS-M grade with four-wheel drive; it’s silver and has fancy features such as a sunglasses holder for those government-issue aviators.
Queensland’s not all mines and sheep stations and the unmarked dark blue Subaru Levorg seen in Brisbane city looks very much at home among the chai lattes and activewear. There’s also a swarm of plain clothes Kia Stingers up in Far North Queensland, too.
The Western Australia Force have 2.5 million square kilometres to police – that’s like having to patrol all of France, Germany and Italy combined, but with less mountains and more deserts. So, it’s lucky they’re doing it in unmarked Toyota Prados.
Finally, you should never mess with anybody driving a black LandCruiser or Prado, ok? The Tactical response group use these throughout Australia and our retired contact from the force calls them the “bashers and crashers” because that’s generally how they let themselves into the homes of bad guys.
So, the message here really is the nation’s forces could be driving anything – from high-powered sports cars to family SUVs. If you stick by the rules you don’t have to worry. If you break the law – at least you might get a ride in an M3.
Special thanks to the Australian Police Vehicles Facebook group.