by Ian Dickson
Here are 10 police cars you don’t want to mess with. Because while squad cars like the Vauxhall Omega and Volvo estate are a regular sight on our roads, some police jobs require something a little more potent and special.
From Lamborghini Gallardos in Italy to Mitsubishi Evos in the UK, we take a look at the best patrol cars in the world – and hope we never run into one…

10: Lotus Esprit S4

Italy might have Lamborghini and Ferrari, but England has Lotus and the Esprit S4 is arguably up there with these lusted-after exotics. With the engine in the middle, drive channelled to the rear wheels and a 3.5-litre V8 providing forward momentum, the Esprit is a seriously swift machine and, as a police car, it is as deadly as a rusty scalpel. Unfortunately, it is believed the Esprit in these pictures was nothing more than a publicity stunt to promote sales, and normally we would leave it out, but the idea of a Lotus Esprit police car is too good to overlook.

9: Rover SD1

In the ‘70s and ‘80s the Rover SD1, complete with blue lights and stripes, was a familiar sight on UK roads – and a formidable foe for any criminals stupid enough to cross it. Police forces favoured the range-topping 3.5-litre V8 for obvious reasons, proving so suitable for their needs they stockpiled SD1s when it went out of production in 1986. Made popular from TV shows like The Professionals and The Bill, it has enjoyed a cult following in the UK since, but rust problems mean few exist today. Confusion remains over its name: some people claim it's called SD after Solihull Design (where it was built), others speculate that it was abbreviated from Specialist Division, hinting at its ability. All we know is that it's great.

8: Skoda Octavia vRS

Erm, have we lost our minds including a Skoda Octavia among our 10 best police cars ever? No, because this vRS version is about as understated as a Vauxhall Astra beat car, but a lot more potent. It’s the previous Octavia which gets a 180bhp turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine, enough oomph to speed it to 60mph in under eight seconds and on to 140mph. You’re unlikely to see one dressed up as a jam sandwich, like in our photos, though. So discreet is the vRS that many police forces use it as an undercover car, lulling speeding motorists into a false sense of security, then pouncing like a hungry lion. Look out for the lights in the grille and extra aerials on the roof.

7: Spyker C8

The Dutch have liberal views when it comes to drugs and sex, but they’re deadly serious when it comes to high performance cop cars. As you can see here. This is the Spyker C8, a Dutch-built supercar that, as a promotional exercise, was converted into one of the craziest police cars we’ve ever seen. If it were actually in use it could reel in speeding supercars fairly easily given that under its light skin sits a 395bhp 4.2-litre V8 engine that promises 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 187mph. Only slightly slower were the Porsche 911 partol cars used by the Dutch highway patrol in the 1980s.

6: BMW 5-Series

Compared to some of the other cars on this list, the BMW 5-Series isn’t quite as exotic or exciting. In fact, with a 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine you might even argue that it’s bordering on boring. But you’d be missing the point because this is one of the greatest cars the police have at its disposal and as such is a favourite in police garages across the country. The Metropolitan Police’s S019 armed response team, for instance, use it for its tremendous potential, space for four or five tooled-up men and a boot big enough to house a small army’s arsenal.
Best of all is that it will get about 35mpg, making it reasonably economical. So at least all our hard-earned tax money isn’t being spent on fuel.

5: Subaru Impreza WRX

Another boy racer car making it big with UK cops is the Subaru Impreza WRX. And with good reason. Because like the Evo, the WRX is perfect for Britain’s narrow, twisty country roads. If you’ve ever watched reality TV cop shows, most police chases are flummoxed the moment the hoodlums head off road. However, they won’t shake off the WRX, like this last-generation one here that is in use by the Humberside force. As with the Evo, it uses a 2.0-litre turbo engine and grippy four-wheel-drive system to get it to 60mph in around 5.0 seconds and a top speed nearing 150mph.
But this Prodrive-enhanced WRX also has a sump guard fitted, allowing it to fly over speed humps at 70mph and travel off-road. It isn’t quite as sophisticated as the Evo, nor as hardcore and compromising, but it is one police car you don’t want to see approaching from behind at full speed.

4: Mitsubishi Evo VIII

Yes, Mr Joyrider, try outrunning this. It’s a Mitsubishi Evo VIII, one of the sharpest and deadliest driving tools you’re likely to find the cops driving in the UK. With permanent four-wheel-drive and a throbbing 2.0-litre turbo engine, there are few cars that have the pace and the grip to outrun it, so if you see one in your rear view mirror, do the sensible thing. Pull over. The 275bhp Mitsubishi will out handle any supercar, thanks to a bizarre system called Super Active Yaw Control, which uses the latest Japanese electronics to keep the car stable, balanced and grippy through corners.
Like a lot of these specialist police cars, they are used for gathering evidence so come equipped with the latest detection and video recording equipment. And as it’s a saloon, it’s got plenty of space for this and a few extra passengers. But the very stiff ride means coppers who drive these cars probably need to visit the dentist fairly frequently. For the hardcore bobby, there’s even a 400bhp version which will hit 60mph in 3.5 seconds and 100mph in less than 10. You have been warned.

3: Porsche 911 TechArt

Next time you’re tearing along the Autobhan and forget to slow down for a restricted area, just be aware that the German police have a fleet of Porsche 911s at their disposal, the granddaddy of them all being this TechArt-enhanced 911 Carrera S. And you really don’t want to mess with it. The 3.8-litre engine has been tuned by TechArt to give 367bhp – that’s enough to get it to 60mph in 4.7 seconds and on to a 186mph max – or in other words, unless you’re in a supercar and you’re slightly unhinged, you don’t stand a chance. Nice work if you can get it…

2: Ferrari 250 GT

Believe anything Hollywood says and you’ll already be thinking all the cool coppers drive around in Ferraris – they certainly do in Magnum, Miami Vice and Bad Boys 2. But back in the ‘60s the Italian police drove one for real. The lucky driver’s name was Marshal Armando Spatafora, something of a legend in Rome it seems, and his car was a 250 GTE. Together, they patrolled the streets of Rome for nearly a decade, hunting down serious criminals in the kind of heroic chases Hollywood directors would kill for.
For its day, the car was seriously quick, with a 240bhp engine that could sling-shot it speedily round the tight Roman streets. As you’d expect, no car of the day stood a chance, especially as the GTE shared its roots with the 250 GTO, one of Ferrari’s finest supercars and racers. The 250 GTE was also the first mass-produced four-seat Ferrari, so there was actually a bit of space to stick any arrestees. But it looked so damn cool you’d probably want to commit some crime just to see it in action. These days it's as rare as a straight politician but the actual car used still survives in a museum of police cars in Rome.

And our favourite police car is…
1: Lamborghini Gallardo

From the country that has the world’s greatest concentration of supercar manufacturers comes the world’s fastest cop car. Yes, the lucky Italian cops have a Lamborghini Gallardo at their disposal, a genuine police car used by the Italian Carabinieri to patrol the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway outside Rome. Prime hunting ground indeed, because its 5.0-litre V10 will grant it 193mph flat out and a tarmac-ruining 0-60mph time of around four seconds. But it isn’t just a patrol car for chasing wrung-out Fiats, Alfa Romeos and the occasional Ferrari. The Police-liveried Gallardo also doubles as a super-fast response car, with the ability to be the first on the scene of a serious accident.
Lamborghini Gallardo (Image © Maria L Antonelli/Rex Features)
It carries life saving medical equipment such as a defibrillator to revive car crash victims, and is used as a high-speed shuttle to transport organs between hospitals. Best of all is that with four-wheel-drive sending all 500 horses into the road, the Gallardo patrol car can be used all year round in all weathers.

New in the list | Brabus Rocket CLS Police Car

The Tune It Safe! program was the brainchild of the German Federal Traffic Ministry and the Association of German Automobile Tuners, created to encourage drivers to adopt safe and legal tuning practices. Every year, the Tune It Safe! program would display a car at the Essen Motor Show. This year, it’ll be this monster, a Brabus Rocket CLS V12 S police car. Brabus has taken a 6.3 liter V12 engine and souped it up to produce 730hp at 5100rpm and a mind-blowing 1320 Nm of torque from 2100rpm!

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  1. Anonymous May 25, 2009 at 9:46 AM  

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