• Exclusive What Car? research shows some of the latest and most popular models with keyless entry can be broken into in just seconds
  • Security experts able to steal the new DS3 Crossback in just 10 seconds, while popular Discovery Sport could be driven away in 30 seconds
  • Some manufacturers starting to introduce keyless technology that can deactivate the signal from the car key, preventing thieves from snatching the signal

Some of Britain’s newest and most popular cars are at risk of being stolen in a matter of seconds, because thieves are able to exploit weaknesses in their keyless entry and start systems, according to groundbreaking market intelligence from Britain’s leading consumer champion and new car buying platform, What Car?.

An exclusive test by What Car? found the new DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige could be unlocked and started in 10 seconds by thieves using specialist technology. The Audi TT RS could also be stolen in 10 seconds – although only when its optional keyless entry system was active and its motion sensor technology had not disabled the keyfob. The recently replaced Land Rover Discovery Sport could also be stolen in 30 seconds.

Car theft rates in England and Wales have reached an eight-year high, with more than 106,000 stolen last year alone. Vehicles fitted with keyless entry and start systems are being targeted by thieves. Criminals using specialist tools can capture a key’s signal and relay it to another device next to the car, allowing them to enter and start the vehicle.

What Car? tested seven different models, all fitted with keyless entry and start technology. Its security experts were able to break into a number of them within a matter of seconds.

Some new models on sale today feature technology that helps prevents keyless theft. Manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes-Benz, have introduced motion detection technology inside their car keys – if the key is left untouched, it stops emitting a signal. However, if the key is in a pocket or handbag, and the owner is walking around, the car can still be vulnerable.

Jaguar Land Rover has taken a different approach, introducing ultra-wide-band radio technology on some of its latest models, which transmits a wide range of signals from the key, meaning thieves can’t lock onto the signal and fool the vehicle.

What Car?’s security experts couldn’t steal any vehicle with their keyfobs deactivated. However, this technology is not yet widely available.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “It is outrageous that some car makers have introduced keyless entry and start systems without making them anywhere near as secure as the traditional alternatives they’ve replaced.

“It is great news that a small number of brands are taking the problem of car theft seriously, but more needs to be done to improve security, particularly of desirable used models.”

The results of What Car?’s exclusive security test can be found below:

Audi TT RS Roadster Get into car Drive Away
Advanced Key inactive Not possible Not possible
Advanced Key active 5 seconds 5 seconds
BMW X3 (2018) Get into car Drive Away
Digital Smart Key inactive Not possible Not possible
Digital Smart Key active 40 seconds 20 seconds
DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige Get into car Drive Away
Standard Key 5 seconds 5 seconds
Ford Fiesta Get into car Drive Away
Sleeping key fob inactive Not possible Not possible
Sleeping key fob active 40 seconds 20 seconds
Land Rover Discovery Get into car Drive Away
Standard key 20 seconds Not possible
Land Rover Discovery Sport (2018) Get into car Drive Away
Standard key 10 seconds 20 seconds
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Get into car Drive Away
Keyless-Go key fob inactive Not possible Not possible
Keyless-Go key fob active 30 seconds 20 seconds

About What Car?
What Car?, the UK’s leading and most trusted car buying brand, has the magazine, a market-leading website and several established brand extensions. It has helped Britain’s car buyers to make purchasing decisions for more than 40 years and its tests are widely regarded as the most trusted source of new car advice. is the UK’s leading car buying website, offering trusted reviews and data on every new car. A winner of numerous awards and accolades

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