Taken from todays Drive.com.au
May the Fords be with you
By Joshua Dowling
Monday January 5 2004
The star of the new Falcon range has joined the force after an exhaustive six-month, 60,000-kilometre trial of 10 cars across the state.
The study by police in city and country areas found that the XR6 Turbo delivered the same and sometimes superior performance to the V8 highway patrol cars yet was more economical on fuel and easier on brake wear because of the car's lighter weight.
Unlike ordinary motorists, police place extraordinary pressure on their vehicles during pursuits and when responding to urgent calls. As a result, the brakes on V8-powered highway patrol cars often need to be replaced between 8000 and 12,000 kilometres but the turbo Falcons clocked up between 18,000 and 20,000 kilometres before requiring new brakes.
Before taking delivery of the 10 trial cars senior officers were concerned that the XR6 Turbo's standard brakes identical to those on a Falcon fleet car or taxi would be inadequate for high-speed driving and pursuits.
They requested that the police service order the cars with Ford's $2950 premium brakes.
The XR6 is heavier than both the previous model and the rival Holden Commodore. The officers said the XR6 Turbo, with two officers and all their equipment on board, would weigh more than two tonnes.
Ford insisted that the standard brakes were more than adequate, adding that they were "over-engineered" for the basic Falcon.
After tests at the police driver training centre in Goulburn showed that the standard brakes could not handle extreme driving conditions, however, all Falcon highway patrol cars had premium brakes fitted to give "a significant margin for safety".
The V8s are also thirstier, slurping in excess of 22 to 25 litres per 100 kilometres compared with the XR6 Turbo's relatively frugal 14 to 17 litres per 100 kilometres.
It is expected that police in metropolitan Sydney will be encouraged to take the XR6 Turbo when their Falcon XR8s are up for renewal and that country police will continue with V8 power, as brake wear and fuel consumption are not as severe on open roads.
The addition of the XR6 Turbo to regular highway patrol ranks is also intended to even up the Holden versus Ford score. About three-quarters of the highway patrol fleet are Holden Commodore SS sedans, with the balance being the V8 equivalent from Ford, the Falcon XR8.
One advantage of evening up the split between Holden and Ford is that it makes the police service less vulnerable if a vehicle recall occurs. For example, if Holden were to recall the Commodore, three-quarters of the police fleet would be off the road while repairs were carried out.
There is a further factor working against the Commodore: the high cost of tyre replacement and the frequency with which they need to be replaced.
The cost of replacing the 18-inch tyres on the Commodore SS is close to $2000 per set and because of their low profile and high grip level they wear out more quickly.
The cost is so extreme and costs police precincts so much money that Holden is considering supplying the Commodore SS with smaller, 17-inch wheels because there is a greater selection of tyres that size and they are cheaper to replace.
Furthermore, the XR6 Turbo is cheaper than the Commodore SS and Falcon XR8. The government price to NSW Police is confidential but, even at retail level, there is a significant difference.
The recommended retail price of the XR6 Turbo is $46,005 whereas the Commodore SS is $49,990 and the Falcon XR8 is $51,050.