Foot in the door

US cops are im­pressed with our Caprice, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On Road -

HOLDEN’S pur­suit of the US po­lice car busi­ness has re­sulted in early col­lars, but the com­pany is still chas­ing deals with the larger law-en­force­ment fleets.

The Chevro­let Caprice Po­lice Pur­suit Ve­hi­cle was put up against Ford’s age­ing Crown Vic­to­ria and the new Dodge Charger in a se­ries of on-road tests early this year and out­pointed its US-built ri­vals in ev­ery as­pect, from ac­cel­er­a­tion to brak­ing and out­right lap times.

That’s given the Com­modore-based long-wheel­base car the early lead in the sales bat­tle for a mar­ket that takes about 70,000 ve­hi­cles a year

Holden will build the Caprice PPV in Aus­tralia, with depart­ment-spe­cific equip­ment re­quested by each po­lice force fit­ted in the US. Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose says the com­pany has had an en­cour­ag­ing re­ac­tion to its pur­pose-de­signed po­lice ve­hi­cle, but is still look­ing to trans­late that into firm ex­port or­ders.

‘‘We have re­ceived ini­tial or­ders for the Caprice PPV, which is very ex­cit­ing, but we’re not in a po­si­tion to pro­vide full de­tails just yet,’’ he says.

‘‘The or­ders we have re­ceived so far are from the smaller law-en­force­ment agen­cies in the US.

‘‘We don’t ex­pect to re­ceive the larger fleet or­ders from de­part­ments such as Los An­ge­les and Michi­gan un­til the first quar­ter of next year. We have al­ready started build­ing pi­lot ve­hi­cles for test­ing and fleet mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in North Amer­ica and we will be­gin build­ing cars for cus­tomer or­ders early in the new year.’’

The Caprice PPV is pow­ered by V8 and V6 en­gines, though the V8s, rated at 265kW and 521Nm, were the ones tested in the Michi­gan Po­lice Ve­hi­cle Eval­u­a­tion tri­als, and it was the ethanol-boosted E85 ver­sion that per­formed best.

It is com­pet­ing with the Crown Vic- to­ria Po­lice In­ter­cep­tor — which had been the back­bone of the var­i­ous po­lice depart­ment’s ve­hi­cles — and the Charger Pur­suit.

The Crown Vic­to­ria is be­ing re­placed next year by the Tau­rus Po­lice In­ter­cep­tor sedan, which will have two V6 en­gines — a 196kW/ 338Nm 3.5-litre V6 en­gine; and an all-wheel-drive model us­ing a 3.5-litre Eco­Boost twin-turbo V6 with 272kW/ 475Nm.

Holden and its par­ent com­pany GM have in­vested con­sid­er­able time and money to cus­tomise the Caprice PPV and an un­marked po­lice equiv­a­lent for the US law-en­force­ment mar­ket.

The front seats have been spe­cially de­signed to sculpt around po­lice equip­ment belts, in­clud­ing the gun, Taser and hand­cuffs.

Trial units were fit­ted to ve­hi­cles for po­lice to eval­u­ate and the re­sult­ing shape, foam den­si­ties and hard-wear­ing fab­ric cov­ers is a re­sult of feed­back from po­lice on pa­trol.

The elec­tron­ics, from sta­bil­ity con­trol to ABS, have also been adapted and the side cur­tain airbags al­low a full-width se­cu­rity screen to be fit­ted.

Com­fort zone: the seats of the Chevro­let Caprice al­low for gun belts. They are made from high­wear ma­te­rial and have a seat back se­cu­rity panel for added sup­port.

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