ANYONE else remember an era when almost every other police car seemed to be a Volvo V70 in full ‘Battenburg’ livery?
Sweden’s go-faster estate – specifically, the V70 T5 – had everything the boys in blue could have asked for at the time.
The rear load area was voluminous enough to swallow all those traffic cones, breathalyser kits and all the clobber essential for traffic patrol duties, it was comfortable enough for two officers to spend vast swathes of their shifts venturing up and down various parts of the nation’s motorway network and crucially, the instant the blue lights lit up its wonderful five-cylinder engine could deploy upwards of 250bhp, easily enough to rein in a stolen Vauxhall Belmont or three.
In much way that the Vauxhall Senator would have been a couple of years earlier – and the Ford Granada and Rover SD1 a decade or so before that – the V70 was the quick police car of my childhood. Only it should have been the even more powerful and better-balanced BMW M3 Touring – if only the chaps in Munich had actually made such a thing at the time.
Now, roughly 25 years on, they’ve finally got around to it. They’ve toyed with the idea before, creating load-lugging versions of various previous M3s, but for whatever reason they’ve always concluded that going fast and carrying IKEA palletes should be the domain of the bigger, faster, and far pricier M5.
BMW’s own press release on the subject is wonderfully vague, saying only that it’ll be a bit wider than the current 3-Series Touring and that it’ll be full of the ‘iconic M DNA’ which makes it sound like it’s been hanging out too much with clubbers at an illegal lockdown rave.
Happily, you can piece together enough from what it’ll be sharing with the forthcoming M4 to assume it’ll share its turbocharged straight six, good for either 480bhp or 510bhp in Competition spec, the option of four-wheel-drive, a six-speed manual gearbox and a starting price of somewhere around £80k. I’m guessing that even with the current pledge to increase funding for the nation’s policing, that’s going to be a bit steep.
All of which means that motorway policing is going to remain the preserve, of course, of the other fast practical kind of BMW – the X5, which has been the staple of road traffic officers for at least a decade now.
Inevitably, there’ll be an M-powered version of the X5 or X3 that shares the latest M3’s underpinnings, but it’s never going to be as outright quick, or as scalpel-sharp through the bends, as the M3 Touring that the villains themselves are using.
Sorry, officers. I think you should start asking your bosses nicely for an M3 Touring – it is today’s Volvo T5. If you’re going to spend hours at the helm of a big estate car, you might as well make it the fastest one money can buy…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly