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Police cars: the world's best and worst

We delve into the magical world of the police car, taking in the fastest, most exotic and most inappropriate police cars on Earth

A police car should be fear inducing or reassuring, depending on which side of the law you’re on. The bright colours and flashing lights intentionally make them some of the most recognisable vehicles on the road but take away the markings and most police cars are pretty uninspiring, everyday cars. Not all of them, though! We’re here to round up some of the most interesting police vehicles from around the world alongside some major disappointments. From thrilling supercars to models that clearly weren’t up to the cop car job, there’s a bigger range of police cars out there than you might imagine. 

Police forces in the UK suffer from a severe lack of impressive police cars. Admittedly, it’s not always financially practical for the local constabulary to spend thousands on a McLaren 570S or a fleet of Range Rover Sport SVRs, but a high speed chase or patrol around town would be far more impressive in almost anything other than a Vauxhall Astra

High-performance police cars are mainly used for PR events as talking points to highlight road safety and sensible driving or as a way for manufacturers to promote their latest models. Police supercars do become more necessary in places like Dubai where a Vauxhall Astra wouldn’t have a chance of catching the hypercars that are commonplace on the streets. 

Even on the rare occasions that a police supercar can be justified for operational reasons, there are some serious drawbacks, space being a crucial one. If officers tried to cram a criminal into the back of a Lamborghini it’s they who’d be in line for a charge of GBH and any repair bills would blow most police force budgets in a single swoop. Let’s put the practicalities to one side though and check out our list of the world’s greatest, and most disappointing, police cars...

The world's best and worst police cars

Ford Mustang Mach-E

  • Engine: Electric
  • 0-62mph: 3.7 seconds 
  • Top speed: 111mph

The all-electric Mach-E SUV has been a great success for Ford and now it’s looking to do a similar job with the police. The brand showed this Mach-E police car concept at the Emergency Services Show, as a potential green option for UK forces to add to their fleets.

Ford plans to offer production vehicles with extended range batteries and the option of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The GT version of the new Mach-E does 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 111mph and several forces have already shown an interest in a police edition. This electric vehicle has the potential to be an operational service vehicle on streets near you soon.

BAC Mono

  • Engine: four-cylinder 2.5-litre Mountune, 305bhp
  • 0-60mph: 2.8 seconds 
  • Top speed: 170mph

BAC used the Isle of Man as its base for testing and developing the BAC Mono. To thank the Isle of Man authorities for their hospitality, BAC gave the Isle of Man Police Force their own supercar patrol vehicle. The one-seater Mono is a little impractical for everyday police work but it’s well suited to a high speed chase with a 0-60mph time of 2.8 seconds. The Mono has joined the Isle of Man police fleet as an eye-catching conversation starter for promoting road safety and responsible driving.

Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge

  • Engine: 6.6-litre V12
  • 0-62mph: 4.8s
  • Top speed: 155mph

The Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge is an unlikely choice for a police car, but for a luxury patrol vehicle this would be a top pick. Rolls-Royce showcased this example at the Chichester police station open day, close to its manufacturing headquarters at Goodwood, Sussex, to show its support for the Sussex Police and local community. The Ghost would not be the most economical or even sensible choice for an emergency vehicle but it would look great as part of a police escort. Unfortunately, it won’t become a permanent addition to the Sussex police force’s fleet, for now.

Skoda Kodiaq vRS

  • Engine: Biturbo 2.0 TDI diesel
  • 0-62mph: 7.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 136mph

While not necessarily a cool police car, Skoda’s Kodiaq vRS would certainly be an intimidating sight to see hurtling towards you in your rear view mirror. Its four-wheel drive system and 237bhp mean that the lawless have little chance of escaping the UK bobbies. 

While many standard features remain such as the 20-inch alloy wheels and dual exhaust pipes, there have been some additional police spec upgrades. Some not so standard features include 360-degree visibility thanks to powerful LED signal lights built into the front screen, grille, tailgate and number plate – plus a 100-amp three-tone siren and roof-mounted emergency lights to top it off. 

Nissan GT-R ‘Copzilla’

  • Engine: Twin-turbo V6, 562bhp
  • 0-62mph: 

Alright, so there’s no additional performance bolted onto what is otherwise a standard GT-R, but nonetheless Nissan did brilliant job styling this one-off ‘Copzilla’ for the 2017 New York Motor Show. Adorned with Skyline Metro Police Department motifs, the flashing lights and gigantic roof-mounted spoiler complete a terrifying look. Who would dare try and outrun a copper driving one of these?

Ford Focus RS

  • Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
  • 0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 165mph

Back in the 80's, the Essex and Suffolk Police tried out a Ford RS200 to see if it would work as a patrol car. Despite reporting it as a 'stunning hit' it never did go into full use. Thirty years on, though, a new fast Ford hit the fleet – the Focus RS. With 345bhp under the bonnet, it's certainly not short of pace – and unlike the RS200, it offers up rear doors for transporting suspected criminals, and a boot large enough to store traffic cones. Plus if they get bored, the officers can try out 'Drift Mode' on a deserted stretch of A-road.

Volvo V90

  • Engine: N/A
  • 0-62mph: N/A
  • Top speed: N/A

The Swedish police force took delivery of some shiny new Volvo V90 estate cars in 2017. It's not hard to see why – we very much like the V90 here at Auto Express, and it appears the Swedish police force do too. In fact, like all potential future vehicles, the V90 was tested to the limit in the country's stringent police car tests and scored 9.2 out of 10 – the highest score every achieved by a car.

The overall comments on the car were that the "chassis, steering, suspension, traction control and powertrain all show exemplary performance. Quick lane changes at high speeds feel almost deceptively easy, the car does what it is told to do and shakes off lateral forces without any protest.” Engine specs aren't known, but we suspect the Swedish-spec cars might be using the punchy T6 petrol engine we don't get in the UK. That's good for 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.

Caparo T1

  • Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 345bhp
  • 0-62mph: 2.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 205mph

The Caparo T1 is less of a patrol car and more of a high-speed pursuit vehicle. The mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive two-seater was put into police livery by London’s Metropolitan Police. It can blast from 0-62mph in just 2.5 seconds, and while it’s unlikely to hit its 200mph-plus top speed in any pursuits down the Hackney Road, at least it’ll get people moving out of the way. Designed by the engineers behind the McLaren F1, the Caparo won’t give offenders much chance to escape.

Ford F-150

  • Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 385bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
  • Top speed: N/A

Few vehicles are more intimidating than the massive Ford F-150 pick-up – but in America, it's a staple of life, and has been the best-selling vehicle for years. So, just like the British police forces use the best-selling Ford Focus, it follows that American forces should use the F-150. The Police Pack is available on SuperCrew and SuperCab F-150's fitted with either the 5.0-litre V8 or 3.5-litre EcoBoost engines, and is fitted with all the equipment you'd expect from a police vehicle. Don't expect to see it on these shores, though.

Mercedes GLE Coupe

  • Engine: 5.5-litre V8, 577bhp
  • 0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph

Aussies love a V8, and with the GLE 63 S Coupe the Australian police force even get two turbochargers tacked on as a bonus! The sleek coupe body might not be the most practical for transporting prisoners, but the jacked-up ride height should make mincemeat of the rough outback roads. This was only a loaner car, though, from Mercedes in Australia – as it was part of a campaign to boost road safety in Victoria.

Porsche 911

  • Engine: 3.8-litre Boxer 6cyl, 370bhp
  • 0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 186mph

Porsche recently celebrated 50 years of its iconic 911 sports car, and it’s likely the police in Berlin were keen to join the party with their 2005 model, which has been fettled by German tuner TechArt. This 370bhp machine can cover 0-62mph in only 4.5 seconds 
on the way to a 186mph top speed, and helps keep wayward Berliners on the right side of the law.

Mercedes CLS Brabus Rocket

  • Engine: 6.3-litre V12, 720bhp 
  • 0-62mph: 3.2 seconds 
  • Top speed: 227mph 

Not content with the 911, the German authorities were also treated to this Brabus-tuned MkI CLS, dubbed the Rocket. With a top speed of 227mph and 720bhp on offer, it’s not hard to see where it got its name from. Brabus has given it all the kit needed to keep the added power in check. Unlike some of our other hot cop cars, it’ll also fit a couple of offenders in the back.

Lotus Evora

  • Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 345bhp 
  • 0-62mph: 4.4 seconds 
  • Top speed: 178mph 

Used by Italy’s national military police, the Carabinieri, this fully liveried version of the Lotus Evora has caused quite a stir. It delivers 345bhp and is capable of 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds, so is a match for most traffic on the country’s autostrada. Lotus also takes care of maintenance and trains the drivers on how to handle the supercar. The Norfolk police force has took delivery of one, too, but it’s for engaging the public rather than chasing crooks.

Jeep Wrangler

  • Engine: 2.8-litre diesel
  • 0-62mph: N/A
  • Top speed: N/A

Yet another entry for the Carabinieri, but this time it’s a competent off-roader. FCA delivered the 2.8-litre diesel Jeep Wrangler to the Italian paramilitary police to help patrol an area of the Italian east coast. While it is not the most powerful car on this list, it is one of the most capable off-road. This is helped in part by something called the Mopar One Pack, which brings with it a 2-inch lift, 17-inch Gladiator wheels and additional flares on the front and rear wheelarches.

Spyker C8

  • Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 400bhp
  • 0-62mph: 4.5 seconds 
  • Top speed: 187mph 

This Dutch supercar was fittingly daubed in the red and blue colours of the country’s police force. It also has a specially made stand to hold the light bar, as there’s nowhere for a standard static bar to be fitted. And the rumbling Audi-sourced V8 has would-be criminals thinking twice.

Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4

  • Engine: 5.2-litre V10
  • 0-62mph: 3.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 202mph

The Italian Police didn't have long to wait to get their hands on the new Lamborghini Huracan. The fully-liveried Huracan Polizia was given to the Italian State Police by Lamborghini complete with the all important blue lights. The car's 5.2-litre V10 develops a crook-catching 602bhp.

Ford Shelby Mustang Roush Edition

  • Engine: 5.0-litre V8 
  • 0-62mph: 4.5 secs
  • Top speed: 147mph

You can count on Dubai for a bit of motoring madness and it appears the police are partial to some flash cars. Among the fleet of supercars the local constabulory get to run around in is this Ford Mustang. It's not just any Mustang though, it's a special edition 'Roush' Edition - complete with a 575bhp V8. We can only imagine the sound of this muscle car echoing across the dunes. 

Aston Martin One-77

  • Engine: 7.3 V12, 750bhp 
  • 0-62mph:  3.7 secs 
  • Top speed: 220mph

This is as special as they come from the legendary British maker. As the name suggests, the Aston Martin One-77 was a limited release of just 77 models worldwide. Beautifully hand-crafted materials and an obsessive attention to detail mark the car out. It’s no slouch, either, with 750bhp from a V12 and a top speed of 220mph.

Bentley Continental GT

  • Engine: 6.0 W12, 567bhp
  • Top speed: 197mph 
  • 0-62mph: 4.3 secs  

Another British car, the Bentley Continental GT is a fine choice due to its superb refinement and quality. It’s hand-made at Bentley’s famous Crewe factory, and every effort is made to produce the perfect car, tailored to buyers’ every request. The 6.0-litre W12 engine catapults the car to just shy of 200mph, and dispatches the 0-62mph sprint in 4.3 seconds.

Ferrari FF

  • Engine: 6.2 V12, 651bhp
  • 0-62mph: 3.7 secs  
  • Top speed: 208mph

Practical and Ferrari are two words you rarely hear in the same sentence. The Ferrari FF is an exception, though, because it is a genuinely practical supercar with space for four occupants in a shooting brake bodystyle – the perfect choice for  transporting criminals to the station quickly, thanks to its 651bhp V12 engine.

Skoda Enyaq 

  • Powertrain: 82kWh, 201bhp
  • 0-62mph: 8.5 secs
  • Top speed: 99mph

Skoda has provided many police cars to many countries in the past but the new Enyaq is the first bespoke electric police car from the Czech brand. With a big 585-litre boot, the Enyaq police car should be able to cater for all the equipment police officers need on the job. A maximum 333-mile range ranks among the best pure-electric cars on sale and it can charge to 80 per cent in 38 minutes. The Enyaq also has fewer perishable parts than most ICE cars, meaning it'll spend less time being serviced and more time out patrolling the road. 

The world's worst police cars

Exotic police cars costing vast sums of money to buy and run are inappropriate in their own way but not in the same way as these models. Here are some of the world's worst police cars...  

Lada Riva

  • Engine: 1.5-litre, 80bhp
  • 0-62mph: 14.5 seconds 
  • Top speed: 95mph

Due to the trade embargo with the US, Cuba has found it difficult to obtain an appropriate fleet of police cars. But its friends in Russia helpfully suggested the Lada Riva – and they weren’t joking. The four-door patrols the streets of Havana with a comically large siren, but 
it’s unlikely anyone sees the serious side.

Smart Fortwo

  • Engine: 0.9-litre, 89bhp
  • 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds 
  • Top speed: 96mph

Officers in New York City may struggle to be taken seriously when they trade their classic Ford Crown Victorias for the tiny Smart Fortwo. The NYPD has bought 250 of these diddy city cars, presumably to beat the crush of NYC's traffic congestion. But as they're almost as wide as a conventional car, we can't quite see the benefit – apart from when parking, of course...

Toyota Prius

  • Engine: 1.8-litre, 134bhp
  • 0-62mph: 10.1 seconds 
  • Top speed: 112mph

In a bid to add to their green credentials, police in Berlin are attempting to offset the emissions of the Porsche on their fleet (above) with these hybrid Toyota Prius patrol cars. They’re painfully slow, yet incredibly efficient – and when running on battery power, officers would be able to sneak up on criminals!

For more incredible police cars, check out our round-up of the police cars of Dubai.

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