The last Falcon XR6 Turbo used by highway patrol in Australia has been retired – more than four years after the Ford production line fell silent. Only a few dozen Holden Commodore SS pursuit cars remain nationally.
- shares

The Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo has reached the end of its run as a highway patrol car in Australia after almost two decades of service across four generations of Falcons.

The final example – a marked sedan attached to Surry Hills highway patrol near the Sydney CBD – handed in its stripes on 31 March 2021 after clocking up 86,156km over four years.

It was one of the last Ford Falcon XR6 Turbos put on the road by NSW Police in late 2016, not long after Ford’s Broadmeadows production line fell silent in October of that year.

The vehicle is photographed here with the callsign Central Metro 232 but it was recently changed to City East 212 amid revised callsign allocations across the state just prior to retirement.

Unlike highway patrol Ford Falcon XR6 Turbos used in other states, NSW mandated larger Brembo brakes from the high-performance FPV F6 Turbo Falcon for safer repeated stopping performance during emergencies.

The XR6 Turbos used by highway patrol in other jurisdictions ran the same underdone brake package as regular Falcon taxis after Ford made some cost-saving measures in its later models.

Based near the Sydney CBD, the last Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo highway patrol car did mostly short trips rather than open road driving, and so it did not reach its retirement mileage.

However, it had to be grounded as it was more than four-and-a-half years old and was reportedly starting to show its age.

Most NSW Police cars are retired after 90,000km or three years of service. However during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 some vehicles ran to 120,000km and over time because they were on border deployments, and replacement vehicles were slow to be delivered and prepared for duty.

In the Holden versus Ford era, NSW Police typically had a 50-50 split between the two badges – to hedge their bets in case one brand was struck by a recall.

With the final Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo no longer on highway patrol duties in NSW, it leaves about six dozen Holden Commodore SS highway patrol cars across the nation.

The majority of the remaining Holden Commodore SS highway patrol cars (about 55 as this article was published) are still patrolling NSW roads, with the last not due to be retired until later this year or some time in 2022.

Victoria Police told CarAdvice it has already retired all of its Ford Falcon XR6 Turbos and just 14 Holden Commodore SS sedans and wagons currently remain in the state.

There is one anomaly, however. Victoria Police has for the time being held onto one Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint attached to the Road Policing Command as a “halo” vehicle. However VicPol says the XR8 Sprint is "not operational" – even though it was fully equipped for service – in much the same way NSW highway patrol held onto a Ford Falcon GT-F as a community engagement car.

The Victorian car is one of two XR8 Sprint special editions deployed by VicPol in late 2016. The other XR8 Sprint used by VicPol – a partially-marked yellow “slick top” without roof lights – was wiped out in a crash in late 2016, not long after it was put to work.

The images below are of the marked Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint outside Ford’s Broadmeadows factory on the final day of production in October 2016.

Meantime, police in the Australian Capital Territory advise their highway patrol last used a Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo in 2013. Detectives in the ACT ran an unmarked non-turbo Falcon XR6 until it was retired late last year.

The ACT currently has three Holden Commodore SS-V Redlines, one SS and one SV6 still in service. “These will likely be retired during 2022,” a statement from ACT Police says.

Police in West Australia told CarAdvice they have a handful of non-turbo Ford Falcon XR6 sedans remaining on the highway patrol fleet, but the state hasn't run V8 Fords or Holdens for "about 20 years".

Queensland Police told CarAdvice they retired all their highway patrol Falcons and Commodores last year.

Authorities in the Northern Territory say their records show they did not use the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo or XR8, but they do have two Holden Commodore SS sedans still in service, both of which are due to be retired by the end of this year.

Highway patrol in the NT have since switched to the Kia Stinger, along with police in West Australia and Queensland.

However, once the Kia Stinger reaches the end of its current planned production run a few years from now (it has just had a mid-life facelift) it is not expected to be replaced, having become yet another victim to slower than expected sales amid the global shift away from performance sedans.

Highway patrol in NSW, the ACT and Victoria currently use a mix of BMW, Volkswagen and Chrysler vehicles.

Their counterparts in the US use high performance SUVs such as the twin-turbo V6 Ford Explorer and the V8-powered Chevrolet Tahoe.

In Europe traffic police primarily use a mix of BMW 3 Series and 5 Series sedans and wagons, X3 and X5 SUVs, and Volkswagen Passat sedans and wagons (pictured above in Victoria Police livery, the Passat is favoured for its roominess, 206kW turbo engine, all-wheel-drive grip, and ability to house a full size spare tyre, a requirement for some agencies).

In the UK the high-performance Skoda Superb Sportline (pictured at the bottom of this story) – a twin under the skin to the Volkswagen Passat – is also used in some jurisdictions due to its potent 206kW turbo engine from the VW Golf R matched with all-wheel drive.