No one likes being pulled over by the police, that’s just a simple fact. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to break out the academic papers on the topic, as many of our car-driving pop culture icons attest: most car chases in film revolve around our heroes trying to escape from a faceless horde of flashing blue and red lights. Depending on the era in which a film is set, you’re pretty likely to see them outrunning a small army of Ford Crown Victorias, or maybe a plethora of tough-looking Tauruses decked out with push-bars and a set of steel wheels. Vehicles well suited to their purpose no doubt, but rendered boring by their ubiquity; everybody sees those same cars day in and day out. If police want to step up their game and simply attract a bit of attention, its hard to go wrong with picking any of the following.
However, while Dominic Toretto might think twice before trying to outrun some of the cop cars on this list, he probably won’t be impressed with the others. Instead, he might laugh for about 20 minutes straight and go right back to jumping his Dodge Charger into a flying saucer, or whatever he’s going to do in the inevitable Fast and the Furious 87: ET Go Home.
20 Sick: Caparo T1 - England
The Caparo T1 has a valid claim to being the fastest road-legal way to lap a circuit. I don’t blame you for being skeptical, dear reader, as Caparo is hardly a household name, even in the less-than-mainstream track-rat segment. Maybe a bit of a corporate history lesson is in order: Caparo Vehicle Techologies was founded back in 2006 by Graham Halstead and Ben Scott-Geddes, engineers involved in the development of the legendary McLaren F1 and are who are therefore probably not dummies.
The T1 is their only offering; a Formula 1-inspired two-seater with a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb construction. That mix of materials and design allows for a shockingly light dry-weight of just over 1,265 lbs.
For reference, that’s almost 400 lbs lighter than a Smart Fortwo. Combine that with a competition-derived, naturally-aspirated 3.5 liter V8 with 575 HP, as well as an aerodynamically-optimized body that can generate nearly one ton of downforce at 150 MPH, and you have the next closest thing to piloting an F1 car, with the added benefit of a number plate and room for a passenger. It’s probably a bit much for the driving talents of the officers of London’s Metropolitan Police.
19 Sick: Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 - Japan
At the church of JDM, there are few saints holier than the Nissan Skyline GT-R, blessed be thy name. The all-singing, all-dancing Japanese speed machine with a twin-turbocharged heart, enough grip to alter the rotation of the Earth, and a slew of performance-enhancing technology that let it run rings around vehicles asking twice or even thrice its asking price.
Though Nissan quoted peak horsepower as being a healthy, rather than prodigious, 276 HP as part of the so-called “Gentlemen’s Agreement” with its corporate countrymen, the reality was that the new-for-1999 R34 cranked out well over 300 well-bred stallions. That thrust was sent to all four wheels via an advanced AWD system (dubbed ATTESA E-TS, nerds) that constantly shunted torque to each corner of the car depending on available traction, a mechanical arrangement that was battle tested at the Nürburgring before it was cool. Despite being close to 20 years old, that technological onslaught means that this R34 still sees use as a highway patrol vehicle, resplendent in its natty livery, complete with solid red light bar. It looks more than ready to cut through Japan’s congested motorway system, and should the need arise, chase down some rowdy sports car drivers on the Wangan expressway.
18 Sick: Lexus IS-F - England
The Lexus IS-F was the luxury brand’s first attempt in breaking into the hotly contested performance sports sedan segment. Back in 2008, the BMW M3 was king of the hill, with a spectacularly balanced chassis and 8400 RPM screamer of a V8 engine. The IS-F essentially copied that format in its entirety, with a few uniquely Japanese twists, such as the acoustic signature of its 5.0 liter V8 engine being refined by Yamaha.
It ended up being a bit more of a blunt instrument than the German icon it was targeting, in no small part thanks to the lack of a manual transmission option, but it did offer muscle car thrills with tank-like reliability and peerless build quality.
A first drive by Car and Driver magazine attested to its straight-line bona-fides: “Crank the revs and hit the sport button, and the F becomes a green-light monster.” This police-modified version is owned and operated by Humberside Police in the North of England, and comes bundled with a suite of computer and communication equipment worth £30,000 (that’s about $41,000 for us Yanks). While the idea of a 417 HP hot-rod sliding around Britain’s often slippery roadways is immensely appealing, I’m not sure if the police will be able to exploit the IS-F’s near-170 MPH top speed on their twisting country lanes.
17 Sick: Lamborhini Huracán - Italy
As the birthplace of the supercar, Italy’s Polizia Stradale, or national highway patrol, need to be able to keep up. However, their familiarity with high-performance vehicles hasn’t stopped them from crashing them: a police-liveried, light bar-equipped Lamborghini Gallardo was totaled back in 2009, after the officer driving the exotic swerved into a row of parked cars after allegedly being cut off. It wasn’t like that was some exhibition-bound show pony either, as the Polizia Strada’s Gallardo fleet (that’s right, they have had more than one) racked up over 87,000 on-duty miles.
We can only assume that the Huracán is more than up to the task of filling the law-abiding shoes (or, let’s face it, designer leather boots) of its older brother. Speed certainly won’t be an issue, as this Bull's 5.2 liter V10 engine slingshots its wedge-shaped aluminum body to 60 MPH in just 3.2 seconds. Police certainly won’t be lacking for toys either, as the cabin is decked out with high-definition video recording equipment, a radio, a gun holster, a defibrillator, a police beacon, and even a refrigerated cooler, used to transport organs for surgical transplants.
16 Sick: Alfa Romeo Giulia - Italy
Just like their highway-patrolling brethren, the snappily-dressed officers of the Carabinieri (Italy's national gendarmerie) aren’t strangers to high performance vehicles. While their fleet isn’t quite as ostentatious as that of Dubai’s Poilce Force, it does include mid-engined exotics such as the Lotus Evora. However, you can’t carry much inside a 2+2 sports car, irrespective of the fact that the Evora is Lotus’s most practical offering.
That’s where this wonderfully-painted Giulia steps in, delivered to the Carabinieri in full-fat Quadrifoglio specification by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chairman John Elkann and CEO Sergio Marchionne.
In case you didn’t know, Quadrifoglio is Italian for "pants s***ingly fast," as the schportiest Giulia teams a Ferrari-built and developed twin-turbocharged 2.9 liter V6 to a chassis with enough traction-assisting techno-wizardry to ignore the laws of physics. While I don’t think that the Carabinieri would be exploiting all of the Quadrifoglio’s 7:39-at-the- Nürburgring potential, especially not in the congested urban centers of Milan or Rome, they get some serious cool points by opting for the six-speed manual transmission (an option not offered to North American buyers). They also get to mess around with a removable tablet computer and intercom system.
15 Sick: Carbon Motors E7 - United States
You have to admire the single-mindedness of the E7. It was built by Carbon Motors Corporation, an American startup headed by former police officer Stacy Dean Stephens and former Ford exec William Santana, with the intention of delivering a vehicle that was tailor-made for law enforcement. LEO-friendly features are everywhere you look: seats designed to be comfortable even when wearing a bulletproof vest and equipment belt, 360° exterior surveillance system, forward-facing infrared camera, automatic license plate recognition, integrated firearm storage and mounts, integrated light bar, reinforced front and rear bumpers (the E7 could protect its occupants even in the event of a 75 MPH rear impact), built-in ballistic armor plating, and a separated rear compartment that could be hosed down.
Carbon Motors intended for the E7 to be purchased only by police departments, which is a bit of a shame: if you discount all of the law enforcement equipment, it had the makings of a pretty interesting dynamic package. Power came from a BMW-sourced diesel inline-six, modified for extended periods at idle, which spun up the rear wheels through a conventional six-speed slush box. According to the press release, 0-60 MPH would happen in 6.5 seconds, while top speed was electronically limited to 155 MPH.
14 Sick: Ford Focus RS - England
The Ford Focus RS is the doyen of every Ken Block wannabe, with its Youtube-infamy generating drift mode, torque-vectoring AWD system, ratatat-ing exhaust note, and stupidly awesome pseudo fly-off handbrake. What happens when the hooliganism-enabling collection of components is put to nobler ends? Well, you get this police-ified Focus RS, decked out in the traditional blue and yellow Battenburg checkerboard livery that’s so common a sight on British roads.
Any would-be speeders aren’t likely to get away from the RS, regardless of the talent of the officer behind the wheel; a Top Gear first drive deemed the car to be simple to operate “to the point where you can toss it into corners and execute big drifts with consummate ease”. Not only content with providing some serious handling nous, the hottest Focus of them all has some serious straight-line bona-fides. Thanks to a turbocharged 2.3 liter inline four cranking out 350 HP and 325 lb ft (going up to 350 lb ft on overboost), it can it hurl itself to 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds, which, on twisty, narrow British roads, means that it can keep up with anything short of a well-driven Koenigsegg.
13 Sick: Dodge Charger - United States
We’ll take a break from all that foreign machinery and take a look at one of the most ubiquitous sights on North American roads. The fact that the so-called Charger Enforcer is so common does nothing to diminish its menacing light signature when it appears in your rear-view mirror.
While Dodge offers the Enforcer with their 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 with an eminently reasonable 300 HP, that isn’t the one you should be afraid of: also available is the venerable 5.7 liter Hemi V8 with a much healthier 370 HP.
Now, you might say that doesn’t sound like a lot, given the astronomical power figures of some of the other entries on this list, but its more than sufficient considering the fact that police departments can option AWD with the V8, making it an efficient means of doling out some road-going justice in Snowbelt states. While its not quite the equivalent of the Carbon Motors E7 in regards to its suite of law-enforcement tech, the Enforcer is certainly no slouch, providing features like the Officer Protection System, which uses the vehicle’s parking sensors to alert occupants if someone is sneaking around their car while it’s parked.
12 Sick: Bugatti Veyron - United Arab Emirates
If you want to make a list of the coolest cop cars ever made, it would be difficult to top a police-modified Bugatti Veyron. Debate all you want over its flabby, dated looks, or nouveau-riche reputation, there’s no denying its sheer engineering rigor and relentless, eye-widening capacity for speed. There’s no real point in teasing where this Veyron is operating, because you probably already know: few places on Earth besides Dubai have the financial might to include a Bugatti among their law-enforcement fleet, and fewer still might have the need for it.
In the premier playground for the ultra-rich, where the oil runs hot and free and the surrounding roads are smooth, flat, and desolate, supercar owners will want to stretch their cars legs a bit. When they go a bit too far, Dubai’s Police Force pull out the only car capable of shutting down the ego of every single Lamborghini and Ferrari driver within a fifty-mile radius. While it might be true that extremely twisty, narrow pavement restricts the Veyron’s ability to extract a useful percentage of its 987 HP and serve only to magnify its two-ton bulk, Dubai is exactly the sort of place where the big, bad Bug can outrun anything short of the space shuttle.
11 Sick: Brabus Rocket - Germany
Brabus built its name on one really specific thing: make Benzes go really, really fast. The tuner, founded in 1977 in Bottrop, Germany, can give everything from S-Classes to G-Classes, even Smart Fortwos, a healthy jump in power by way of forced-induction wizardry. The Rocket is actually one of their most famous creations, so much so that the badge has been reused and reserved for the fastest, most powerful, of the company’s creations. This is the name's genesis, a 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class fitted with a 5.5 liter M275 V12 engine.
That motor was accessorized with a pair of aftermarket turbochargers and an array of strengthened internals to bring total output to 720 HP and an Earth-shattering 970 lb ft of delicious torque, up from a still-ridiculous 604 HP and 738 lb ft in stock form. Even with a curb-weight that teetered on the wrong side of two tons, the Rocket lived up to its namesake by launching to 60 MPH in just 3.2 seconds. A police-liveried version of the car was unveiled as part of a joint project between Brabus and the German Federal Traffic Ministry to promote safe tuning practices (Germany’s laws on modifying your car are far more stringent than in the US).
10 Yuck: Suzuki Jimny - Japan
The Suzuki Jimny is lightweight, flimsy off roader best-known for a), its ludicrous body roll, b), its pathetic straight-line performance, and c), it’s surprising depth of off-road prowess. You might have noticed that those two first traits aren’t exactly desirable in a car designed to occasionally chase down a speeding motorist, or in some cases, a particularly rowdy bicyclist, while the latter is basically a moot point; the majority of police chases stay on the road.
The fastest (or more accurately, the least slow) Jimnys rocket to 60 PH in an awe-inspiring 14.1 seconds, while models with the agricultural 4-speed automatic manage the same feat in an even more impressive 17.2 seconds. Look, you might thing I’m being unfair to the poor little Jimny. After all, drag strip dominance isn’t what this car is made for. Besides, you might point out, Japan’s traffic is so dense, you probably won’t need much in the way of performance. Those points are completely valid, but if you’re a Japanese police officer whose been overtaken by a fast-moving Mazda RX-7, don’t say I didn’t warn you. In a country that’s counted the aforementioned Nissan Skyline GT-R, not to mention a first-generation Honda NSX, among its law enforcement fleet, its both disappointing and baffling for them to have gone for a car so completely without any sort of cool factor.
9 Yuck: Pontiac Aztek - Canada
As a standalone vehicle, the Pontiac Aztek is relentlessly, cosmically difficult to figure out. Why does it look like that? Who was it meant for? Why does it exist? There’s no earthly reason for a proto-crossover that looks like its been struck with a particularly geometric case of the mumps to exist in this universe, much less one with a pop-out tent in the trunk. Even after nearly 15 years since its departure from the market, many still wonder how it made through the stringent, multi-year process that goes into pushing a car into series production.
And why shouldn’t they? It’s not like the answers to those first couple of questions are going to come out any time soon.
That said, it seems that the city of Montreal decided that the universe needed another unanswerable quandary, which explains the existence of an Aztek in full police regalia. Details are a little tricky to come by, so you’ll have to forgive my stinginess here, but the Azteks used are clearly post-2002 model, which are identifiable by their body-colored lower plastic cladding.
8 Yuck: Fiat Multipla - Italy
The Fiat Multipla is already considered by many to be one of the ugliest cars ever built, with its distinctive two-tiered greenhouse and bug-eyed front-end that goes between being funny and frightening. That actually makes it ideal for stopping criminals: any would-be larcenist would be stupefied by the Multipla’s Medusa-like visage, and stumble to a halt, making arrests roughly 200 per cent easier.
Of course, officers would be forced to wear some sort of vision-impeding visor in order to avoid being affected by their own weapon, while any nearby civilians would be stunned to immobility, which I assume would have a negative effect on the economy. In spite of those risks, the city of Florence, a place renowned for its architectural beauty, decided to provide its municipal police force with a fleet of red-and-white-liveried weirdos; perhaps it provides some sort of yin-yang effect against the backdrop of cobblestone streets, gothic cathedrals, and terracotta roofs. The lack of major urban highways or even somewhat-wide roads also means that the Multipla won’t be tested at high velocity: it takes this MPV 12.0 seconds to get to 60 MPH from a dead stop, and tops out at just over 100 MPH.
7 Yuck: Hyundai Sonata - China
Before Hyundai made headlines with V8-powered luxury cruisers and sports sedans with six speed manuals, they languished in a no-man’s land of ignominy. Not yet offering the lineup of sleek commuters that they’d use to climb out of this hole of their own making, they sought to grow their consumer base by offering beige-looking family runabouts. Case in point, the EF-chassis Sonata, built from 1998 to 2005.
It looked like a Bentley drawn up by someone who had never actually seen a Bentley, before being crossbred with a Chinese-market taxicab and being hit with a concentrated dose of "meh." With the driving dynamics of a particularly lively sloth and a 170-ish HP V6 driving the front wheels, let’s just say high-speed pursuits clearly aren’t within this car’s wheelhouse. Maybe its true power lies elsewhere, as Beijing’s police department is clearly putting this weapons-grade mediocrity to good use. instead of resorting to the Medusa-like power of the Florence PD Fiat Multipla, they intend to simply lull fleeing criminals into a boredom-induced coma by way of a black hole of visual stimuli; nothing interesting escapes the Sonata’s event horizon.
6 Yuck: Chrysler PT Cruiser - United States
The PT Cruiser s concentrated, weapons-grade, automotive depression. It’s a personal theory of mine that no one actually went out and bought one. I feel like they either spontaneously appeared in people’s driveways as an act of divine retribution or, slightly more plausible, Chrysler just gave them to little old ladies for free, and when they passed, they collectively made their way into the hands of their grandchildren. It’s with that theory in mind that I’d like to know the exact sequence of events that led this particular PT Cruiser to be wearing the city of Largo's police livery.
It’s not like its going to be much good in a chase, as most Cruisers were sold with asthmatic naturally-aspirated inline-fours hooked up to sluggish four-speed automatics; 60 MPH came and went in a relaxed 9 seconds.
Sure, there was the turbocharged GT model, which used a similar powertrain to the deceptively fast Neon SRT-4, that could boogie to the same speed in just under 7 seconds, but those were few and far between. That’s without going into issues with build quality: cop cars are expected to sit for long periods of time while idling without bugging out. It's the metaphorical toothpick in this sh*t-sandwich that one of the most prevalent reliability issues with the PT Cruiser was its propensity for overheating.
5 Yuck: Smart Fortwo - United States
When you think of the New York police department, you probably visualize grizzled detectives in overcoats, or, failing that, fresh-faced beat cops in dark blue uniforms, driving around Times Square in their distinctive NYPD-liveried Ford Crown Victorias. Or maybe you’re just happy that Brooklyn Nine Nine was renewed, and what don’t have any real opinion on what officers should or shouldn’t drive. Besides, there’s no denying that this police-modified Smart Fortwo would look more at home on set of a TV comedy rather than, you know, real life.
That being said, compared to the Twizy, the Fortwo looks like the Apollo rocket: the lightest manual-equipped can boogie on down to 60 MPH in 9.8 seconds. Welcome to the two-digit 0-60 club, bud! Here, have a complimentary pin! Still there’s certainly a lack of that essential uh-oh factor when you see a law-enforcement Smart pull up to the curb. No one wants the police to intimidate the people they’re supposed to protect, but at the same time, there’s no benefit for officers to tool around in something that looks like a prop for a prank show.
4 Yuck: Lada 2107 - Bulgaria
Ah, Lada, the bastion of Soviet automotive engineering. A company whose laissez-faire attitude to build quality can be summarized in a review of the Lada Niva by Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky: “Even at idle — from outside or inside the car — the car sounds like there's a belt-driven Victorian valet-punishing baton factory under the hood. Every belt squeaks and emits an occasional shriek, pulleys periodically scrape, the valves clatter, transfer case gears vibrate, hoses drum, the whole thing sounds like a busy, dizzying chaos.”
The 2107 isn’t really any different. First, a bit of history: the 2107 sedan has known many names and undergone several revisions since its introduction in 1979: its been alternatively known as the Riva as well as the VAZ-2105, among others.
Without wanting to sound to clickbait-y, you probably won’t believe where the bones of this car came from. Italy, with its sleek carbon fiber exotics are gloriously warm summers, is about as far from the desolate cold of the former Soviet Union as it gets. And yet, somehow, the 2107 is basically a licensed copy, minus a few convenience features here and there, of the Fiat 124 sedan, which was first introduced in 1966. That only really serves to illustrate just how old this Lada really is. This police version hails from Bulgaria, and would probably struggle to keep up with a horse and buggy: communist-era sedans aren’t known for the speed or agility.
3 Yuck: Toyota Corolla - Singapore
When you hear the words “Fast Response Car”, you might assume that the term refers to some turbocharged piece of high-performance machinery, maybe a sports sedan with plenty of passing power. Maybe you’re of the more militaristic persuasion, and assume the vehicle in question to be some massive, angularly-styled troop carrier with plenty of armor plating. Well, regardless of your mindset, I’m pretty sure none of you would use those words to describe a Toyota Corolla with a light bar.
Maybe a bit of cultural context is required: Fast Response Cars are used by the Singapore Police Force as simple patrol cars, which belies their aggressive designation; on paper, the fastest car in their fleet is a Hawkeye-era Subaru WRX.
The label still probably fits though: in Singapore’s dense urban traffic, officers would be traveling the same speed in a Lamborghini as in a Corolla, with less to worry about in terms of physical size as well as the cost of replacement body panels. Still, if traffic ever clears up, officers will probably be left in the wind by toddler on a tricycle: the brawniest Corolla Altis (the South-Asian market Corolla) puts out just 134 HP courtesy of a natural-aspirated 1.8 lite inline-four.
2 Yuck: Dodge Nitro - United States
Really, I’m not sure what else needs to be said about this heap that could further reduce its standing as a vehicle suitable for police departments. A cop car doesn’t need to move like a Lotus, but a certain amount of dynamic predictability is a baseline requirement. Now, I know it’s tricky to make a body-on-frame SUV handle with anything approaching delicacy, but even among the low standards of its segment, the Nitro was lacking. For proof, in William C Montgomery’s review of the Nitro for thetruthaboutcars.com, he lamented its “boat-like dynamics” and “numb steering”.
That’s without mentioning the asthmatic straight-line performance, which is probably more relevant for an officer at the wheel; after all, what good is a crisp driving experience without the ability to merge onto the highway?
Well, dear hypothetical officer, don’t worry, you’ll be disappointed by the Nitro’s performance in this domain as well: V6-powered Nitros lumbered to 60 MPH on just under 10 seconds, and while the Hemi-powered R/T model could do the deed in 6.8 seconds, that’s also much faster than I’d be comfortable with while driving one of these. The Nitro’s only saving grace as a police car is its brutish front end, which looks suitably intimidating before it turns into a spec in your rear view mirror.
1 Yuck: Renault Twizy - England
I’ll be quite honest, I’d kind of like to drive a Renault Twizy. For the unfamiliar, it’s a twee little electric car, just over 90 inches in length, with two seats arranged in a tandem, with the most potent model cranking out 17 HP for a theoretical maximum range of 62 miles. Okay, I definitely don’t want to hustle one on the highway, where it looks like a decidedly cheerful, creative way of committing suicide, but it looks like quite the fun little runabout for two very patient suburbanites.
If I saw one with a blue-and-red light bar trying to pull me however, I might just laugh and walk a little faster. Honestly, its sort of bizarre that even a city as densely constructed as London would have one in their police fleet: they lack the speed to pursue fleeing drivers, while also lacking the weight and mobility advantage over people on bicycles, who can fit in really narrow alleyways and the like.