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Improving trend, but more work to do as 13 new cars awarded mix of Superior, Basic and Poor security ratings

Press release   •   Mar 03, 2020 00:01 GMT

The Thatcham Research Consumer Security Rating assesses a new car's all-round resilience to theft
  • Thatcham Research releases first Consumer Security Ratings for 2020, as ‘theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle’ increases by 5%[1]
  • Absence of traditional security measures on Hyundai, MG and Tesla models result in ‘Basic’ ratings
  • ‘Superior’ BMW, Land Rover, Mini, Porsche, Škoda and Toyota models pass keyless system ‘Relay Attack’ test
  • Relay Attack test failures for Mazda, MG, Subaru and Vauxhall models

Thatcham Research is today releasing its first Consumer Security Ratings for 2020, having assessed the security features of 13 new cars. The results show that while progress is being made by carmakers, some models are still coming to market with inherent security vulnerabilities.

Vehicles are assessed by Thatcham Research security engineers for resistance to digital theft and to confirm that features, including immobiliser, alarm, double locking systems and wheel security, meet minimum insurer requirements.

Three of the vehicles tested, the Hyundai i10 Premium Mpi (‘Basic’), MG HS Excite T-GDI (‘Poor’) and Tesla Model 3 (‘Basic’), were missing some of these security features, and the Tesla’s rating will apply following an upcoming firmware update.

Richard Billyeald, Chief Technical Officer, Thatcham Research comments, “The keyless vulnerability continues to be a concern to car owners. However, it is not the only factor behind recent increases in vehicle theft.”

“Our assessment found that the rated Hyundai, MG and Tesla models are missing some commonly accepted security measures. These measures were introduced to improve core car security and represent the minimum today’s drivers should expect, whatever the vehicle price point.”

Billyeald comments on the rating for the Tesla Model 3: “Thatcham Research has been working closely with Tesla on the security features on the Model 3. Their ability to enhance security functionality via advanced connectivity across all vehicles is a huge advantage.”

Can buyers count on keyless security?

The BMW X6 M50d, BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport, Land Rover Discovery Sport D150, Mini EV, Porsche Taycan, Škoda Superb and Toyota Supra all gain ‘Superior’ ratings for all-round security and the presence of a Relay Attack fix[2].

‘Poor’ ratings were awarded to the following models with keyless systems because Thatcham Research security engineers were able to access and start the vehicles using Relay Attack equipment:

  • Mazda CX-30
  • MG HS Excite T-GDI
  • Subaru Forester e-Boxer XE Premium
  • Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate Turbo 100

Billyeald comments, “The number of carmakers now offering Relay Attack counter-measures with new vehicles is steadily increasing and should be applauded. However, all new cars with keyless systems ought to have a solution to this long-standing vulnerability in place.”

“It’s also important to remember that the motion-sensor fob, while a good short-term fix, is not the ultimate solution to the keyless vulnerability, which should be designed-out of new vehicles completely in the future.”

The rated vehicles

Vehicle Rating*
BMW X6 M50d SUPERIOR
BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport SUPERIOR
Hyundai i10 Premium Mpi BASIC
Land Rover Discovery Sport D150 SUPERIOR
Mazda CX-30 POOR
Mini EV SUPERIOR
MG HS Excite T-GDI POOR
Porsche Taycan Turbo SUPERIOR
Škoda Superb SUPERIOR
Subaru Forester e-Boxer XE Premium POOR
Tesla Model 3 BASIC
Toyota Supra SUPERIOR
Vauxhall Corsa Ultimate Turbo 100 POOR

*Where available, Thatcham Research tested one model with keyless entry and start fitted. This may be an optional feature on some or all models.

Check the spec

When keyless entry and start is available on a range, the Consumer Security Rating is applied to the model with the system fitted.

“Drivers should go into the dealership with their eyes open to keyless security and if they do intend to specify the system, ask if a fix has been introduced. Your dealer is there to help with any queries or concerns and will know about system fitment and which type of fob is available,” says Billyeald.

For more information please visit: https://www.thatcham.org/what-we-do/security/consumer-rating/

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/latest

[2] The Tesla Model 3 uses a different access system (Near Field Communications) to the other cars tested and is not susceptible to the Relay Attack

Thatcham Research is the independent voice of automotive safety, security & repair, advising motorists, insurers and vehicle manufacturers to help reduce accident frequency, severity and costs and to realise the vision of ‘Safer cars, fewer crashes’, while driving standards in vehicle security.

As well as its world leading crash and track research, Thatcham Research develops repair methods amongst a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

In addition, Thatcham Research has administered the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Group Rating system for the past 50 years. Group Rating is an advisory system intended to provide insurers with the relative risk of private cars and light commercial vehicles.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.