The new patrol cars
For the first time, the NRW police are using two different models as patrol cars. The Ford S-MAX and the Mercedes Vito will shape the streetscape in the coming years. Reason enough to take a close look at them on a test site.
Streife editorial team

Fabian Griebl (Düsseldorf police) presses the accelerator pedal. The Ford S-MAX accelerates smoothly and quickly. A fountain of water suddenly rises in front of him. The police commissioner (PK) steers the steering wheel to the left. But a second fountain of water is already waiting, which is triggered with a time delay. Counter-steering, swerving, braking: the Ford S-MAX cuts a very fine figure on the test site in Grevenbroich on this gloomy November morning.

Griebl is driving the S-MAX for the first time today: "It feels good. But it's a lot beefier than the BMW 3 Series I've been driving as a company car so far. You have to get used to the driving experience first. In terms of the interior, comfort and space, it's a clear step forward." Sitting in the passenger seat is his colleague, Police Superintendent Maren Jensen (Düsseldorf Police). A test date like this is something very special for both of them, as only a few colleagues have ever driven one of the two new patrol cars themselves. At the test site, they can put the two "new ones" through their paces and find out how the service cars can be used and where their respective strengths lie.

The selection process

The current fleet of BMW patrol cars will be completely replaced by mid-2021. Each police authority will receive one third Ford S-MAX vehicles and one third Mercedes Vito vehicles. Each authority can decide for itself which type the last third will be. The roll-out is already underway: "At the moment, the S-MAX is being used slightly more than the Vito," says Chief Superintendent Thorsten Drewes from the "Operations Technology" department of the NRW State Office for Central Police Services (LZPD). He has accompanied the procurement of the two new patrol cars step by step. The future users were actively involved in the selection of the new vehicles: They were able to contribute their suggestions in several test phases, both in the selection of the vehicle type and the interior design. "Now the two vehicles really are tailor-made for the NRW police," says Drewes. Two models were deliberately chosen in order to meet the different requirements of police work.

The use

The engine is the same in both vehicles. The only difference is that the Vito is slightly larger and higher than the S-MAX. In tight city centers, the S-MAX may be easier to get along with than the Vito. On the other hand, the Vito offers more reserves in terms of payload weight and volume. In principle, however, both vehicles were purchased for exactly the same purpose: daily patrol duty in NRW.

The extras

PK Pascal Krebs from the LZPD drives the Vito in the duel at the test site in Grevenbroich. "In the interior, we made sure that you can also work properly at night," explains Krebs. "We now have LED work lights in front of the sun visor. You can fold the screen down a little and have very good workplace lighting as a result."

In both vehicles, video intrinsic safety to the front and rear is new. A small screen for monitoring has been integrated into the sun visor in the front passenger seat. There is also a second emergency call button in the middle of the ceiling of the interior, which can also be easily reached from the rear seat. Pascal Krebs: "Now I can also press the emergency call button from the back to be connected to the control center."

The Vito has special features: If you fold down the middle seat, you still have a fold-out work surface on the rear bench. There is also a removable step-through protection at the front. The special signaling system on the roof of the Vito is also very flat. Because this patrol car is 14 centimetres higher than the S-MAX, you might otherwise have problems in multi-storey parking lots.

Pascal Krebs is particularly pleased that the new patrol cars offer so much storage space. There is no longer any need to store command and operational equipment on the back seat. However, the human factor also has to play a role: "It's up to our colleagues to decide how long it stays that way," says Krebs.


Both cars are ideally suited for patrol duty, as they complement each other perfectly. Above all, both offer significantly more space and comfort than the old vehicles. If an operation requires a lot of space, the Vito is the first choice. It can serve as a small operations center. Despite its size, the S-MAX is still maneuverable and clearly laid out. A classic patrol car that makes no compromises.

VITO and S-MAX in comparison


  • Height: 194 cm
  • Acceleration from 0 to 100 in 10.8 seconds
  • Best if you need a lot of interior space and often travel with four people



  • Height: 185 cm
  • Accelerates from 0 to 100 in 9.9 seconds
  • Best in cities with narrow streets and low parking garage entrances
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