Once modeled on the Crown Victoria, there's a new Interceptor, based on the rather handsome Taurus saloon.
Ford Interceptor police car can take a hit while keeping the peace
Through the mediums of television and cinema, practically everybody knows a bit about living in the USA and, if you ever get a chance to visit North America, you'll understand what I mean about it being sensory overload. So many sights, sounds and experiences unique to that country that are instantly familiar, even if you've never before been privy to them. Déjà vu is a constant.
Even before I tell you what the most popular car is for the various state police forces, you'll know it. Because you'll have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of them on TV shows and films, more often than not being smashed to pieces in some car chase or other. The Ford Interceptor, based on the now phased-out Crown Victoria, is an undisputed legend and is easily the most successful model ever used by police worldwide. They're even used by law enforcement officers in the Middle East, principally Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.
But now there's a new Interceptor, based on the rather handsome Taurus saloon - a car I keep seeing more and more on the streets of the UAE. The Taurus is so far advanced from the Crown Vic that it's almost funny, yet some US police forces are reluctant to change to the new model because, in their opinion, the old one did everything they ever needed it to. The incredible popularity of the Crown Victoria as a car for the buying public baffles me - it's enormous, looks ungainly, the interior is a joke and it has all the handling finesse of an ocean liner - but as a New York taxi and a police car it made sense, possibly for the very same reasons.
The Crown Vic Interceptor's popularity with the police is quite simple to explain. It had a body-on-frame construction, allowing for cheap and easy crash damage repair, often negating the need for chassis straightening. It was also rear-wheel drive, which meant it could take a hammering being driven over curbs and rough ground. It also looked dramatic when oversteering into frame during all those cops-and-robbers chase scenes at the cinema.
Time marches on, however, and the latest Interceptor has landed in the UAE for Ford to showcase its talents to our local police forces, in the hope that we, too, will see them on the roads of our nation every single day.
The car has much going for it. It's unique in that it's only built as a police car. It's tailor made for highway patrol use, can withstand a rear crash impact of 120kph, it's four-wheel drive and its lusty 3.5L V6 can be rated up to 365hp. And, unlike its predecessor, it can handle.
The Vic lurches through corners as if it's about to scrape its door handles on the tarmac, while the new one simply gets down to the business of flatly getting around whatever bend is in its path. It feels entirely modern, well screwed together and, while it isn't possessed of the magic carpet ride of the Vic, it's still comfortable and refined.
Recognising that most police vehicles spend an inordinate amount of time sat still, with officers inside waiting for something to attend to, the fuel consumption of the Taurus Interceptor's thirst is much improved over the Crown Vic's, which in itself will save the US government millions of dollars every year.
To get the UAE's police forces reaching for their chequebooks, fuel consumption improvement is a bit irrelevant, as are the stab-proof front seat backs and the ballistic door panels, for we live in one of the safest places on Earth. But we do have a mild obsession with all things American, so maybe the new Interceptor does have a chance after all. If nothing else, we'll see them on the silver screen soon, being written off in some spectacular crash scenes. But as examples of how Ford as a company is constantly bettering itself, both the Interceptor and the Taurus it's based on are quite exceptional.