New cars score mixed results in first keyless security tech tests

Two-thirds of the tested cars were at risk from keyless car thieves


SOME CAR makers still need to make inroads on their keyless tech, according to findings from UK car assessor Thatcham Research.

As part of a newly-launched rating for keyless security, Thatcham put 11 new-for-2019 cars to the test, to see how easy it is for thieves using relay transmitters to unlock and drive the vehicle away.

Overall, the results painted a very mixed picture. Of the vehicles tested, six were given a “Poor” rating, as they didn’t have any anti-relay theft measures in place.

However, the Audi e-tron, Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the recently-facelifted Jaguar XE did feature tech that could counter relay devices. These cars were deemed to be secure enough to be awarded the highest-possible “Superior” rating by Thatcham Research.

The new Suzuki Jimny was given the lowest-possible “Unacceptable” rating, but there’s more to the result than meets the eye: the compact 4×4’s poor score is down to it not being available with keyless start or entry tech at all.

The findings come after a reported 49% increase in car thefts in the UK over the last five years, which is attributed to the rise in keyless technology. Earlier this year, The Sun found some cars with keyless start and entry can be stolen using relay boxes in as little as six seconds.

Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer at Thatcham Research, said: “Security has come a long way since vehicle crime peaked in the early 1990s. But the layers of security added over the years count for nothing when they can be circumvented instantly by criminals using digital devices.

“The shame is that most of the cars rated ‘Poor’ would have achieved at least a ‘Good’ rating had their keyless entry/start systems not been susceptible to the Relay Attack.

“We are really pleased to see that the latest Audi e-tron, Jaguar XE, Land Rover Evoque and Mercedes B-Class were all awarded ‘Superior’. This demonstrates that there are solutions and fixes to the problem, which we expect other manufacturers to include on their future models.”

The new cars most at risk of keyless theft

Vehicle (2019 model year) Security Rating
Audi e-tron Superior
Ford Mondeo Poor
Hyundai Nexo Poor
Jaguar XE Superior
Kia ProCeed Poor
Land Rover Evoque Superior
Lexus UX Poor
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Superior
Porsche Macan Poor
Suzuki Jimny Unacceptable
Toyota Corolla Hybrid Poor

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