THE ZB Commodore looks set to join its Aussie-built predecessors in the constabulary, with Victoria Police tests highlighting superior handling and stability characteristics compared with the VF model.
Both the 2.0-litre petrol, and 3.6-litre V6 AWD Commodores have impressed at police car academy, with Vic Pol’s manager of transport, Frank Melilli, telling Wheels the AWD version in particular “holds the road better than anything Holden has ever produced”.
Melilli said while the full results aren’t yet in, he expects each powertrain, in sedan and Sportwagon guise, to achieve the ‘Gold’ unrestricted speed classification, which could make them suitable for highway patrol duties, alongside another new German-built recruit, the BMW 530d.
Melilli said while the VF SS Commodore made the gold standard, the V6 versions, used for general patrol duties, were only rated at silver which meant they weren’t authorised to operate beyond a certain speed limit.
“They’ve done a great job in terms of improving the performance and handling of the car,” Melilli said.
The police performance and handling tests include putting the vehicle on a tilt table to measure the angle of roll the car can maintain before the wheels lift off the ground. This helps work out the vehicle’s centre of gravity, which in turn is used to calculate its stability, but not before it’s subjected to some vigorous driving through witches’ hats.
“They use all that data and drive the car through a double lane change manoeuvre,” Melilli explained. “They drive it as fast as they can, and the test stops at a speed when they consistently hit the witches’ hats. A couple of people do the driving and they compare measurements and use a formula to conclude that the car is gold, silver, bronze or white*.”
While the new Commodore looks certain to pound the beat around Melbourne, it has yet to prove if it has the grunt to take on the more glamorous highway patrol role.
“We’re looking for vehicles that have acceleration in the same sort of fashion as the old SSs or the XR Falcons,” said Melilli. “We did testing yesterday, but there were some very, very strong winds so I don’t know if it’s fair to hold them to the speeds that we’ve come up with.”
The V6 AWD VXR has the best chance of passing muster with highway patrol, with an unofficial 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds, which is about a second slower than the VF SS Commodore auto.
Other vehicles under Vic Pol evaluation are the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat, which are also under evaluation for general plod duties and have achieved a gold ranking.
Both are proven elsewhere, with the Sonata is in use with the Queensland Police Service, and Passat throughout Europe.
The Kia Stinger, which has been touted as a highway patrol contender, has yet to be officially tested as the Korean carmaker is yet to provide a factory-fitted police pack, which accommodates a dual battery system and wiring and apertures needed to install police lights and equipment.
* The Gold and Silver ratings are part of an ‘Approved Driver Authority’ rating that applies to police vehicles including motorbikes and is also used to measure police driver training levels. The scale has four levels, White, Bronze, Silver, Gold which relate to their maximum operational speeds.