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Peugeots too slow, French police get Subarus
French Gendarmerie Nationale to use Subaru Impreza WRXs for chase vehicles. French cars were too slow.


2006 Subaru Impreza WRX

PARIS (Reuters) - The next time a criminal in a getaway car in France looks in the rear window the chances are that the vehicle in pursuit will be a blue French police Subaru.

The Japanese car brand, part of Fuji Heavy Industries, has sped past French rivals to win a key contract for fast intervention cars for the highway police.

"We have a contract to supply 63 cars to the Gendarmerie Nationale for patrols on the roads," Subaru spokesman Gilles Varmoux said on Thursday. "There was a tender for four-door, four-wheel drive cars that could go faster than 240 km per hour (149 miles per hour) and had a reasonable price," he added.

The Subaru Impreza WRX cars will replace Peugeot's 306 S16 and the Renault Megane Coupe.

The police forces are among the most faithful clients of the local car makers, but this time the French offerings were just too slow.

"These new vehicles will allow the national police to fight the most serious and most dangerous road offences," the Gendarmerie Nationale, part of the defence ministry, said on its Website.

It added that 156 agents would be trained to drive the cars on the Bugatti racing circuit of Le Mans in west France.

The cars are for the rapid intervention brigade (BRI) which previously had vehicles that could not go faster than 190 km per hour, or about 118 miles per hour.

The BRI, spread over the country at 55 stations, will intervene only in case of a crime or serious offence when a driver has to be stopped immediately.

In 2005 there were 53,000 instances of people on the run in cars or refusing to stop at the police's request.

Most European criminals will also no longer be able to claim that they did not understand police instructions in French -- the cars will relay their messages in a light display in five languages -- French, English, German, Spanish and Dutch -- while there is room for three others.
 
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