Two Italian Police forces have chosen to use the SEAT Leon as their main vehicle. This is a great show of strength for the brand as Police forces are notoriously fussy about the cars they choose to use. With a potential total of 4000 cars this order is a substantial fleet success for SEAT. The initial order of 925 cars will be split between two forces, the “panthers” (Polizia di Stato) and 450 “gazelles” (Carabinieri).
As you might expect, the cars went through some very rigorous testing before the contract was signed. Two main test cars were used, code named the Panther and the Gazelle. Challenges included some day to day tests like the doors being opened and closed 100,000 times and general road use. However, the Police wanted to know the cars could really stand the pace so drove them for 30,000 miles continuously, only stopping for fuel and driver changes; a very serious test for any car.
Although many people think Police cars are simply standard road cars with a fancy paint job there are actually a lot of modifications done before a car is allowed to join the ranks. Many of these modifications are geared around adding in all the communication and computer technology used by the Police. However, in this case the Italian Police wanted to install armoured doors and bonnets to the cars for added protection. Naturally this is not the normal job of the SEAT technicians so the base cars will be delivered to a specialist factory once completed where they will be modified.
The engine chosen was the 2.0 litre TDi with its 150PS, the reason for this was simple; pulling power. The high torque levels the engine offers are perfect for helping pull the extra armour the cars will have without compromising response times. To top all this modification off the cars will also get some heavier new suspension to help them cope with the stresses of Police work.
A Great Choice
There are a number of reasons why these two forces opted for the Leon, and naturally their requirements are quite unique. But when it comes to cars there are many common factors that make a car appealing from Police forces to familes. The Leon was chosen for its excellent fuel economy, reliability, low emissions and general low cost of ownership.
All this comes at a time when SEAT is seeing a major growth spurt in it’s fleet business across Europe. This innovative brand offers reliable, good looking and well priced cars across the board. The Police seem to like them, perhaps the criminals won’t be such fans.