Cars are purchased for a number of different reasons. They can show off our personality, or just instil practicality into our everyday life. However, when cars are used to fulfil a daily objective, there can be a lot more factors to consider, and this is especially true for law enforcement vehicles.
When it comes to high-speed chases, modern police cars have proven that they can be a force to be reckoned with. However, in some other instances there are models that can pale in comparison to other law enforcement vehicles.
There are some police cars that have been offered for one sole purpose alone, whereas others just don’t have the aesthetics or power to demand the respect deserved by police forces around the globe.
In all fairness, it could be argued that citing certain police cars as the worst is a little unfair, as police forces and manufacturers are always looking for pro-active ways to cover various landscapes without damaging the environment.
However, although the environment has been saved, the reputations of some of the police forces in question remain in tatters thanks to its choice of law enforcement vehicle. From high-speed pursuits for high-value heists to petty number plate crime.
Evidently, there has been much improvement since the 1800s, whose cars would run at 16 mph, and would need to be charged every 30 miles. That said, there weren’t many vehicles that could outrun such a car back in the day.
Nowadays, police require a car that not only offers practicality, but also aesthetics that demand respect. We take a look at some of the more unusual vehicles that fall a little below the mark when it comes to dishing out justice.
10 Cuba: Lada Riva 1982
So, what happens when you require a fleet of police cars, but your country has a trade embargo with the US? Well, if Cuba is anything to go by, you simply ask Russia for a suggestion.
The four-door Lada Riva offers a tepid 80 bhp, and is very unlikely to be taken serious by any category of criminal, especially given its almost comical siren, which is more likely to cause problems on the road than resolve them.
9 Czech Republic: Smart Fortwo 2008
When it comes to hunting down criminals, you need enough space in the back for when the arrests are made. Something that was evidently missing from the blueprints when officers in Prague settled on the two-seater Smart Fortwo.
However, it could be a more pro-active design as the car itself is very unlikely to be used to transport prisoners, due to the fact it can only muster a mere 84 mph, thanks to its engine which offers a maximum 61 bhp. Maybe trainers would be a better investment.
8 Germany: Toyota Prius 1997
When it comes to police cars, Berlin has plenty to boast about, as the German capital was responsible for adding Porsches to their fleet of police cars. However, in a bid to lower emissions, a new kind of vehicle was needed, and that vehicle was the Toyota Prius.
The Prius is a hybrid, and as such is much kinder to the environment when compared to the fuel-guzzling Porsche, but it comes at a price. While not the slowest car on the list, the Prius only offers 112 mph and 134 bhp.
7 UK: Nissan LEAF 2014
When it comes to an all-electric car, the Nissan LEAF is quite practical for those looking to go from A to B, but does it muster up the power needed for high-speed chases? The answer in short is no.
Much like the Prius was introduced in Berlin to reduce emissions, West Midlands police were looking for a similar solution and decided to introduce 30 electric Nissan Leafs with 107 bhp, giving them a maximum speed of 90 mph.
These cars may be fine for patrolling neighbourhoods, but if something big is going down, it could be a while before backup arrives.
6 USA: Dodge Diplomat 1981
Now, it could be argued that this iconic law enforcement vehicle of yesteryear shouldn’t be considered as a bad car because of advancements made since its production, but even back in the day, police offers in the US were finding their patience tried by the Dodge Diplomat.
Offering an average 100 bhp, this wasn’t why it was considered one of the worst police cars. Officers would report instances where they experienced poor braking, poor acceleration and even situations where they had to jump-start the car. Hardly practical for law enforcement, or anything for that matter.
5 Italy: BMW i3 2014
The BMW i3 is by no means an ugly car; in fact, it’s quite a thing of beauty. And it’s not short on the software either, meaning that a series of tasks can be automated, so for what reason is the BMW i3 on the list?
Although you could argue as to whether 167 bhp is enough, you need to remember that this is an all-electric car, which is what makes it a bad law-enforcement vehicle, despite being adopted recently by police in Milan.
It uses up battery power quickly, with a full recharge taking up to 15 hours, so police officers could find themselves concentrating on how much power they have left, rather than what’s going on around them.
4 France: Renault ZOE 2012
The Renault ZOE was introduced to the French police force for the same reason the Nissan LEAF was introduced to the UK, and that was to find a way to run police vehicles while keeping emissions to a minimum.
The same problems arise with its practicality, as a mere 87 bhp won’t get you to the scene of an accident anytime soon. Although fine for everyday users, police forces in France may find themselves bound as to what kind of incidents that can actually attend.
3 Bulgaria: Citroen C4 2005
While not an out and out terrible car, the Citroen C4 is considered more of a family run around than it is a law enforcement vehicle.
The Citroen C4 is part of the team of patrol cars that include other models such as the Opel Astra and the Dacia Sandero. The car is able to offer 155 bhp, but its problem lies in its handling.
The steering can be a little unsteady, and the overall ride can mean that police officers are feeling the force of the environment within the car itself, not ideal while in pursuit of a criminal.
2 Japan: Suzuki Jimny 1998
When it comes to police vehicles, the Japanese police force has a couple of candidates, but it’s the Suzuki Jimny that sticks out as one of the worst.
What is it that’s wrong with this Suzuki Jimny? Well, it’s actually a case of what’s right with it - not much. Especially when you consider it’s being used to enforce the law.
Meeting with less than favourable reviews, the Suzuki Jimny offers a timid 90 bph, along with slow acceleration and all the comfort of a pogo stick.
1 Russia: Lada Samara 1984
Lada was a popular brand within Russia, even leading Cuba to follow Russia’s example and install Lada vehicles as part of their fleet.
While there are some cars made by Lada that are more than satisfactory, the Lada Samara isn’t one of them.
Crippled by its terrible build quality and spongy suspension, you can imagine how much vibration police officers have to deal with as they try to control the car in the first place.
More suitable models have been introduced since, but this doesn’t change how terrible a police car the Lada Samara was.