Ford will show an example of what police the world over can expect in future patrol cars when it unveils its Interceptor SUV at the upcoming Chicago motor show.
The new all-wheel-drive model packs a number of features designed to help officers better deal with the specific challenges faced in the course of day-to-day patrol work.
First up is Surveillance Mode, which Ford claims is an industry first. It warns occupants when someone is approaching from behind the vehicle and automatically raises windows and locks doors.
Such a feature, say law enforcement agencies, may have prevented the deaths last December of two New York police officers, gunned down in the suburb of Brooklyn while sitting in their patrol car. The guman walked up behind them.
Another innovation is a specially calibrated gearbox for what Ford calls the Interceptor’s Pursuit mode. The electronics in the gearbox automatically detects aggressive driving and, when engaged, holds on to gears for longer.
Pursuit mode is even calibrated to perform a J-turn, so drivers can accelerate hard in reverse, swing the car round and take off facing the right direction.
Ford says it has listened to feedback from police forces who used the previous Interceptor. One result of that is a remote tailgate release that unlocks the boot for 45 seconds before automatically re-locking it if unopened. That is something the cops wanted.
New systems aside, the Interceptor gets some of the high-tech from Ford’s suite of driver aids. Blind spot warning, cross traffic alerts and reverse parking sensors are all available as options, while the brand’s SYNC system allows officers the potential to control a broad range of the car’s functions with their voices.
The Interceptor gets two powertrain options, both Ecoboost V6 petrol engines. The standard engine is a 3.7-litre V6, generating 227kW and 378Nm. The optional 3.5-litre unit offers significantly more oomph – 272kW and 474Nm.
On top of the new features are tried and true components like heavy-duty powertrain mounts, reinforced subframes, larger-diameter springs in the suspension, and boron-steel reinforcements in the car’s a-pillars to improve structural rigidity.
The Interceptor’s brakes are “designed to withstand excessive use,” says Ford, with extra cooling provided by the car’s 18-inch wheel design. Even the SUV’s tyres have been designed to survive the rigors that police life will throw at it – Ford claims that some cars will cover over 80,000km a year.
Ford will build the Interceptor Utility in Chicago, before sending it to Troy Design and Manufacturing – one of the US giant’s subsidiaries – where the Interceptor is fitted with its lights and police liveries.