Australian Police Are Testing a BMW M3 Competition Patrol Car
The high-performance sedan raises some eyebrows in the Victoria Police fleet.
Patrol cars often consist of fairly regular sedans or SUVs, equipped with all manner of electronics and hardware for the policing role. It's typical for these vehicles to be specced out with something above the base engine, giving officers at least a decent chance of keeping up with other cars out there on the road. Sometimes though, more powerful cars enter the fleet; the BMW M3 Competition put to work by Victoria Police is a fitting example of just that, as reported by CarExpert.com.au.
At a price of around $155,000 Australian dollars (~$110,000 USD), the image of police driving around in a German performance car could raise some questions about the prudent use of taxpayer dollars. However, the vehicle appears instead to be on a temporary loan for "evaluation and assessment" purposes, rather than an outright purchase by Victoria Police. Similar arrangements have been made in the past, with the force previously employing an M5 Competition in a loan arrangement back in 2019.
The M3 Competition sports a twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter straight-six engine, good for 502 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is swift, taking just 3.9 seconds for the 0-60 mph sprint. Victoria Police have employed the rear-wheel drive model, though an all-wheel-drive xDrive version is also available from BMW.
With those performance credentials, the hot BMW seems ideal as a car for taking on a pursuit role. However, Victoria Police has seen much controversy around its pursuit policy, with high-speed chases undertaken by its officers at times having deadly consequences. Other incidents have seen police accused of using innocent motorists as human shields to the outrage of the public. The rules regarding high-speed chases have seen repeated updates to policy in recent years, with the Victorian coroner once again calling for change in the wake of a fatal incident.
The vehicle will serve alongside the BMW 530ds that have become the mainstay of the Victorian Highway Patrol. The luxury status of the brand has raised eyebrows at times, though police have touted the lower fuel consumption of the BMW diesels as a cost-saving measure versus older, thirstier Australian-built V8s. Luxury equipment is often deleted from vehicles built specifically for police duty as well, helping to bring down costs. German-built vehicles have become remarkably popular with Victoria police after the closure of Australian vehicle manufacturing; the force also employs the BMW X5, as well as a special police-only version of the Mercedes E400d turbodiesel wagon.
In many countries, police driving around in a luxury sports sedan would draw outrage and ire from the public, regardless of whether the vehicle was a "loan" or not. However, in Australia, such cars are regularly dished out to police as promotional tools, and don't tend to get the same negative reaction. Whether the M3 is out doing real police work is difficult to determine, but BMW's press release states that the vehicle "has been performing specialist duties in the hands of Victoria Police Highway Patrol officers in recent weeks across the state."
In any case, if you find yourself flying down the highways of Victoria at great speed, you could find a remarkably quick police car rapidly filling your rear-view mirrors. The M3 Competition is just the latest in a long line of high-performance cars to serve with Australian police.
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