Police in our country are always on a hiding to nothing when it comes to equipping themselves with suitable equipment. ‘Cheapest is best’ has always been the mantra of the bean counters.
Sure they employ a few people to evaluate what will work best for them but at the end of the day, the final decision always comes down to money.
When it comes to vehicles however there are other concerns too. The major one being supply. In the past, we have been saddled with vehicles that I would consider inferior and not really suited for the job, simply because there were only two companies that could supply enough vehicles, Ford and Holden.
Ford, the preferred supplier for many years, dropped by the wayside back in the early 2000s after they couldn’t provide enough vehicles. Holden came on board supplying half of that intake, but they were finally able to take the entire contract not long after, and we were saddled with Commodores for years.
The Commodore was ok, but there were much better options out there. We couldn’t very well be seen running around in posh BMW’s though as that would make our Cops look like they were lording it over the proletariat, even though the price offered was extremely good.
So with the standard rear-drive Commodore production being discontinued, the PFC’s had to look at a replacement. The new version of the Commodore, the ZB seemed ok but there were plenty of grizzles from the Cops on the street about lack of rear headroom, (“mind your head sir… thwhack”), and apparently some complained about them being front-wheel drive, (like any of the frontline teenagers would know how to properly drive a rear-drive anyway!)
So when stuck with a problem of what will do the job now, for the least amount of pesos, and from a company that can actually supply 1500 units every couple of years, what do the bean counters do?
They decide that the new standard patrol car will be a boat!
The new Holden Equinox will be the weapon of choice now because basically it came down to the Astra or that.
Some wag on a Police Facebook page mentioned that a 30% discount was offered to take the SUV over the hatch, but that is purely a rumour, although I would imagine that would be the sort of game that would be played, particularly if Holden wanted to rid themselves of the thousands of left-over Equinox (Equinoxes, Equinii?) following their spectacular misjudge of the local Aussie market after killing off the Commodore.
Perhaps that isn’t the case and we will be getting the Made in Mexico version. (Hopefully, we won’t be getting the Made in Wuhan China version or all Cops will have to wear face masks just in case!).
Now don’t get me wrong, the Equinox isn’t a particularly bad car or anything. It is roomy enough, especially in the all important back seat stakes, and with 188kw and 353 of Mr Newton’s finest torques being twisted out the Chevy 2 litre turbo engine, it is actually as grunty in the real world as the old Commie. It even has a nine-speed transmission which by all accounts is a pretty good one, missing gears as necessary etc, although it is set up for smooth shifting, not max attack, crim catching driving. Maybe that doesn’t matter if they are just going to tag and release anyway.
But there are a few issues that might be raised.
Again it’s a front-driver. Now for everyday patrol on city streets and motorways, this will likely be fine, but if the boys/girls/(other) in blue have a problem with a low slung front-wheel drive ZB, they are going to hate the high riding, big-wheeled, overweight, American mid-size SUV. Yes, it has had its suspension tickled up a bit to make it more Aussie-fied, but at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, it will handle in a manner not entirely unlike the above three-wheeled cabin cruiser while trying to cross the Manukau Bar in a rolling 4-metre swell.
But “it has a really good stability control system” cried someone from Police who was trying to sell the public on them recently. Well no, actually if a vehicle needs to rely on electronics to keep it on the road then it might as well be called the Holden Barky McBarkface because it will be a dog and will be less nimble in a pursuit than Winston Peters’s old Labrador chasing a bunny.
This was brought home to me recently when I took a new 4wd Isuzu D.Max for a strop around my local racetrack. The D.Bag is a great ute, if you’re looking for a well-specced workhorse for your tradie staff. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better value for money equation, but it’s not a race car, and it should never be used as one.
I was basically unable to get any sort of decent forward momentum due to it’s similarly ‘really good stability control system’. When pushing along I was getting ESC activation at every single corner. The only way I could even remotely get it moving was by disabling the system and then I could at least drive out of the corners, tyres squealing, smoke flowing and palms sweating. The brakes of course overheated within a lap.
And so it will be with the Equinox. My secret sources within the Feds have advised me that the thing is a pig on the handling track. They feel that the vehicle was accepted because there was no other option, and they expect plenty of crashes due to a washed-out front end and inadequate brakes.
Concerns such as the crim being able to open any door from outside if the key is nearby could cause problems, and when they figure out that they only have to wave their foot under the rear bumper to pop the boot open while they’re being cuffed should produce some moments of hilarity. Ooh look, your guns have fallen into my hands! The fact that they need to run on 95 octane gas should keep the Green Eco-fascists in a lather though, so that’s good.
But it’s not like there aren’t actually plenty of options. Australia have all sorts of things now, Kia Stingers (oops, no rear headroom), diesel 530 BMW’s and even glorious Hemi powered V8 Chrysler 300c’s.
By all means have the Equinox for light duty stuff, heck the 4WD version would even make a reasonable replacement for the woeful, permanently broken Craptiva’s that are used down in the icier regions of our fair land, but as a front-line pursuit capable vehicle, yeah that’s a no from me.
Of course, considering the ‘cheapest is best’ mantra, I would imagine they are probably keener to get the 1.5 litre, petrol model. A car which has an uncanny ability when overtaking to somehow turn gasoline into nothing but noise.
At least the bad guys’ rice puddings will remain resolutely covered in skin if they go down that road.
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