The endorsement of Lexus vehicles by police forces around the world comes in recognition of key attributes such as quality, durability and reliability. However, as you will see from the text below, it also demonstrates the inherent safety of the manufacturer’s high-performance F-line models and the proactive approach Lexus UK has taken to preparing cars in anticipation of vital framework agreements.
Lexus UK started attending the annual National Police Fleet Managers Association conference in 2002 in order to demonstrate the qualities that we felt made Lexus cars ideal for police work.
A number of models – specifically, IS 300 and SportCross, GS 300 and GS 430 – were submitted to the Home Office to undergo testing for their suitability. All were approved and issued with framework agreements so they could be ordered by police authorities.
Following that endorsement, the first UK police force to take delivery of a Lexus for its fleet was Wiltshire Constabulary, in 2003. Initially, the Lexus GS 430 (above) was introduced on a two-week trial, but the V8 model’s balance of power, handling and long-distance comfort made it an instant favourite and was purchased on those recommendations. Posted to patrol duties along the M4, the GS was predicted to clock up a significant 150,000 miles during its three-year service life.
“Reports on the [GS 430] were very favourable,” commented Steve Botham, Wiltshire’s Fleet and Service Manager, “particularly because of its power and the space inside. Some of the vehicles we use have to be modified – the suspension, for example – but with the Lexus the quality is so good, no changes were made.”
Soon afterwards, the Wiltshire Constabulary purchased a second Lexus, an IS 300 SportCross model, while Lexus UK stepped up its police programme by preparing models from its entire line-up – IS, GS, RX and even LS – to meet Home Office standards.
By the midway point of 2003, several forces had signalled their interest in the Lexus RX 300 as a versatile all-rounder with exceptional reliability and durability. A demonstrator (below) was therefore prepared and dressed in full chequer livery for the Police Fleet conference in August of that year, in the anticipation that after official testing it would be in full service by early 2004.
With the RX having subsequently proved itself in police service, Lexus predicted that the launch of the full hybrid RX 400h in June 2005 and high-performance GS 450h in 2006 would be noticed by police fleet managers. “With a fleet that covers 14.5 million miles per year and uses in the region of 390,000 litres of fuel, it is the responsibility of all fleet managers to seriously consider a vehicle’s environmental imact when purchasing new models,” admitted Hampshire Constabulary fleet manager John Bradley.
Little surprise, then, that following its showcase at the Police Fleet conference in August 2005, the Hampshire force took delivery of the first full police-specification RX 400h (above), which included the new Nemesis camera monitoring system. Following its introduction, a delighted Bradley commented: “The vehicle’s performance was outstanding, with quick acceleration and more than adequate response throughout the range of the gearbox.”
By 2006, the Wiltshire Constabulary was thinking about a suitable replacement for the GS 430 mentioned earlier and fleet manager Steve Botham was the first to incorporate the recently launched Lexus GS 450h to his fleet. Its 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and high-output electric motor was more than a match for the outgoing V8 model in terms of outright performance but it had significantly lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Hybrid models continued to be favoured by police fleet managers throughout the rest of the Noughties as both standard transport and for special ‘front line’ duties. But the arrival of the marque’s high-performance F line, introduced by the Lexus IS F saloon, caught the attention of managers for covering road crimes.
Specially trained officers from Humberside Police and vehicle dynamics experts spent 12 months evaluating a number of high-performance vehicles to enable the Roads Crime Section to target organised criminals in the area. Following this process the decision was taken to purchase a Lexus IS F as it proved to capable of remaining exceptionally stable in high-speed operational environments, despite carrying the extra weight of £30,000 worth of on-board computers and operational equipment.
The [Lexus IS F] is undoubtedly one of the most advanced police vehicles in the world
Sergeant Mike Peck of the Humberside Police Roads Crime Section commented: “In the past this equipment has placed huge demands on vehicles but the Lexus IS F easily met our requirements. The final product provides a most formidable package and is undoubtedly one of the most advanced police vehicles in the world, which, in turn, enables my officers to deal with the criminals who use the roads for serious and organised crime.”
Interestingly, the corporate subsidiary in Japan (Toyota Technocraft) involved in engineering the specialised F-line modifications applied to the standard Lexus IS also builds packages for domestic police cars. By the time of the launch of the Lexus IS F, there had never been another Lexus model so heavily tested at race tracks around the world.
Australian forces had been keeping an eye on the fleet activities of the British police. News of their hybrid and F-line purchases was promoted by Lexus Australia and published in the national press. This led to the adoption of a pair of hybrid models (GS 450h and RX 450h) as ‘high-vis’ vehicles by the New South Wales force to promote Road Safe and Snow Safe campaigns beginning in 2014.
“Road safety remains one of the top priorities for police, and unique cars like a Lexus are a great way to engage with the community and discuss safe driver behaviour,” revealed Inspector Jim Fryday. “The hybrids will give us an opportunity to talk to people on an informal basis and hopefully make a positive impression about police and what we do.”
Two years later, the NSW force added a new weapon to its road safety arsenal, imitating the example of Britain’s Humberside force in adding a potent F-line model to help broadcast important safety campaigns. It was felt that communication of strategic safety messages on roadsides and as a race control vehicle at motorsport events at Bathurst would be much more effective with a high-performance vehicle such as the Lexus RC F coupe.
Peter McGregor of Lexus Australia reckoned there would be additional benefits to providing the car to the NSW police: “We are also confident the public will enjoy interacting with the RC F when it is on display, providing a visual statement with its arresting styling package and an audible thrill thanks to its high-output V8 engine.”
As far as we are aware, the only other country to recognise the benefits of Lexus vehicles as police cars is the United Arab Emirates. Last year, police in the city-state of Dubai took delivery of a Lexus RC F – the latest addition to the force’s enviable collection of automotive exotica used to patrol tourist hotspots.
The police force in Dubai has gained worldwide attention for its astonishing fleet of rare supercars and hypercars, which includes the Bugatti Veyron and Aston Martin One-77. It’s testament to the desirability of the RC F that the force deemed it special enough to rub shoulders with cars that cost more than ten times its £59,995 UK on-the-road price.
A video tour of the car is presented below, as well as of the Dubai Police’s other recent acquisition, a 70-series Toyota Land Cruiser, which has been temporarily rereleased in Japan to celebrate the model’s 30th anniversary.
Read more: The dual personalities of the Lexus RC F