If you’ve ever watched an episode of World’s Wildest Police Chases, you’ll remember the dreaded Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which baddies have been trying to shake off their tails since 1992.
Well, it’s finally been laid to rest. No longer will the felon’s rearview mirror be filled with the hulking presence of that black and white body and flashing red and blue lights after they pull that bank job.
Now there’s a new, stronger, faster, more fuel-efficient and a far more eager sheriff in town — the Ford Taurus.
It’s so heavily modified that I noticed Ford reps avoided calling it a Taurus at all when I went down to see the car at Yas Marina. They opted instead for “purpose-built Police Interceptor”, and I wondered whether it was because they weren’t quite over the fact the Crown Vic was being cast aside, or maybe it was because deep down they knew the Taurus just wouldn’t be a match for the legend it would be replacing? But that’s extremely doubtful, because this can withstand a rear crash impact of up to 120kph, has ballistic door panels, is capable of high-speed chases and has a kit list that would embarrass a space shuttle.
The Taurus Interceptor is shorter and rounder than the angular and larger Vic,
which ceased production in 2011, and was beginning to look a little dated.
Police departments were looking for a car that was both modern and had a better
fuel economy, and they’ve got their way.
With two V6 motors on offer for the new Interceptor; a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre with front or all-wheel drive making 265bhp and an EcoBoost turbocharged 3.5-litre all-wheel drive producing 365bhp, both mated to a six-speed automatic, the new car is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the Vic.
Both engines have been tuned to produce more oomph than their civilian counterparts. I had a blast in the Vic around the North track at Yas, (minus the flashy lights and police decals unfortunately) and then jumped straight into the modified Taurus — they were like chalk and cheese.
The newcomer felt taut, it was responsive and it surged forward with gusto compared to the poor old Vic, which was sluggish and heavy at best. It was the all-wheel-drive system that really gave the Taurus the edge. But there’s so much 365bhp.
The 3.5-litre Ecoboost turbocharged motor isn’t just gutsy, it’s 25 per cent more frugal than the Vic more to it than just four active wheels.
The stoppers, for instance, have been enhanced with new rotors and callipers and have improved braking by 60 per cent. They also suffer less from fade when in hot pursuit.
The suspension has been stiffened and bolstered with larger bushes in the lower arms, which means the Interceptor can tackle curbs as high as 20cm at over 65kph. The cooling system has been upgraded to withstand long-winded chases and remain cool even when the action is hotting up.
A radiator with twice the cooling capabilities is to thank for keeping the engine from overheating, while the electrical system has been boosted with a 220-amp alternator — that’s 40 per cent higher than what the regular version has.
This allows various tools and gizmos used in police cars to be hooked up easily
without sapping too much power.
It’s all change on the inside — the interior is 90 per cent new. For starters, it’s gained a column shifter for the slush box instead of the lever mounted on the console of the regular Taurus. Officers can place their utility belts under the front seats, which have had their lower bolstering removed.
The anti-stab plates occupy the space in the back of the front seats, and these act as a barricade to protect officers from being attacked from the back seats by perpetrators. The back doors open an extra 10 degrees (making a total of 71 degrees) to make it easier for officers to get hoodlums back there.
Standard features include an extremely sophisticated blind-spot warning FordSYNC information system, and a camera and sensors to help with reversing. It also has electronic stability control and an airbag rollover protection system.
But just how the Taurus Interceptor will fare in the competitive police market remains to be seen.
It joins some pretty tough company, with the Dodge Charger and the upcoming Chevrolet Caprice police patrol vehicles to contend with, but Ford feels pretty confident, having maintained more than 70 per cent of the police market share in the past five years.
And with the Explorer Interceptor joining the ranks, featuring a 304bhp 3.7-litre V6 and a rear floor that can take a 363kg payload, its market dominance looks set to continue.
The Crown Vic was all the car the police ever needed, but the new Ford Interceptors are all that and more. That getaway car had better be good.