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An arresting choice: The NYPD’s latest police car is the tiny Smart Fortwo

Forget Dodge Chargers or Ford Explorers. For its latest batch of patrol cars, the New York Police Department is thinking small.

The NYPD recently took delivery of 100 Smart Fortwos, and has another 150 on order. Compared to traditional police sedans and SUVs, the tiny Smart might seem like a downgrade for officers, but it’s actually the opposite. That’s because the Fortwos will replace trikes currently used by the NYPD in meter-enforcement service.

Switching from those primitive three-wheelers to actual cars should bring a few benefits to officers patrolling the streets of the Big Apple. The Fortwo’s interior is likely a bit more spacious and quiet, and it features something the trikes lack: air conditioning. The cars will also likely be able to keep up with city traffic better, although they aren’t exactly equipped for high-speed chases.

Read more: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive revealed

The only changes made to the Fortwo for police duty are the addition of radios, NPYD livery, and the requisite flashing lights. That means these cars make do with the same 0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine as civilian models. It produces 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. This is enough to get non-police versions of the Fortwo coupe from 0 to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds, and to a top speed of 96 mph, according to Smart.

Speed isn’t everything, though. The Fortwo’s 22.8-foot turning circle make it ideal for urban use, as do its petite dimensions, which mean it won’t take up much more space than the trikes it will replace. Plus, the NYPD still has a diverse array of other car models in its roughly 9,000-vehicle fleet to handle jobs that require more space or speed.

Among the myriad vehicles plying New York City’s streets, the NYPD Smart Fortwo patrol cars will certainly stand out. In a Smart press release, NYPD officer Ralph Jefferson said many people say that the tiny cars are cute. You don’t hear that word used very often to describe a police car.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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