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Top 10: Britain’s most secure cars
Cars haven't just got greener, faster and safer over recent years - they've also got a whole lot more secure.
Back in the day any crook with a screwdriver and an ounce of mechanical knowledge could nick a car in seconds.
But these days it's a whole lot more involved, modern cars way more secure than their forebears. In recognition of this the recently announced British Insurance Vehicle Security Awards reveal the most secure cars currently on sale, sector by sector. Supported by Thatcham and the Department for Transport it's an exhaustive survey too.
The scores are based on the New Vehicle Security Ratings (NVSR) insurers use to decide insurance groups and ranks each car on 'theft of' and 'theft from'. Locks, immobiliser systems, glazing, alarms, ease of key duplication and many other criteria are assessed, the winners in each category as follows:
City car/supermini: SEAT Ibiza
No surprise here that the most secure supermini on sale is also one of the newest on the market, SEAT's Ibiza including a 'rolling' immobiliser that constantly changes its coding so even if someone has 'read' your key they can't get in. Deadlocks on all doors also boost security.
The neat removable TomTom nav unit with its dash top dock is a handy feature too, leaving no tell-tale mark on the windscreen to alert smash and grab thieves to the nav unit in your glovebox. Runner up in this category is the Mini, its satisfying clunk on locking certainly sounding reassuringly secure!
Driven: SEAT Ibiza
More pictures of the SEAT Ibiza from Bing
Small family car: Citroen C4
The first of several category wins for Citroen in this contest, the French firm clearly placing security very high on its list of priorities. More impressively still the C4 beats the Volvo C30 and Audi A3, these firms both top-three contenders in the overall manufacturers' ranking.
The C4 Exclusive singled out for particular praise in this ranking gets additional security features over the standard fit immobiliser, deadlocks and self-locking doors. Laminated side windows and blacked out tailgate glass mean even if casual thieves could see your luggage they couldn't easily break in to grab it, boosting the C4's 'theft from' rating.
Driven: Citroen C4
More pictures of the Citroen C4 from Bing
Family car: Citroen C5
Yes, it's another Citroen, the C5 beating the likes of the Volkswagen's (second in the manufacturer rankings) Passat CC and brand new Vauxhall Insignia in the process. So what's the secret to Citroen's success? Well, those laminated side windows on Exclusive spec cars once again count for a lot.
As well as boosting refinement they make casual smash and grab type break ins more or less impossible. And Citroen's policy of working with Thatcham's car security experts when developing its new models has resulted in a consistent success record in this contest over the years.
Driven: Citroen C5
More pictures of the Citroen C5 from Bing
Compact executives: Audi A4
We all know Audis are stylish, well built and have great interiors but it seems security is also best in class in many sectors. And the latest A4 takes top honours in the compact executive class. And in second place? The SEAT Exeo ... which is based on the previous generation Audi A4!
Thatcham Category 1 alarm/immobiliser protection on S line models and Audi's electronic 'intelligent' key helps boost the A4's security, the latter sharing information with the car and assisting both with security and servicing by storing fault codes and other electronic data with the ECU.
Driven: Audi A4
More pictures of the Audi A4 from Bing
MPVs: Ford S-Max
We've lumped compact and large MPVs into one category here, predictably Citroen coming top in the smaller class with its C4 Picasso Exclusive. In the next size up it's Ford that takes top honours though, the S-Max coming top an the Galaxy coming in second place, the Chrysler Voyager in third.
The Thatcham Category 1 alarm/immobiliser helps lower insurance premiums and boosts security, kicking in if anyone tries to break in via doors, windows or bonnet and via changes in interior air pressure. There's also Ford's own Passive Anti-Theft System and shielded, reinforced deadlocks on all doors.
Driven: Ford S-Max
More pictures of the Ford S-Max from Bing
Open-top cars: Audi A5 Cabriolet
Traditional cabrios are often considered less secure than their tin-top cousins by simple virtue of the fact they have a roof made of vulnerable fabric. The modern trend for coupe-cabrios with folding metal hardtops has removed this traditional weakness but it's interesting to see that both the winner and runner up use traditional fabric roofs.
As the overall manufacturer winner Audi obviously has a good understanding of car security though, the A5 taking top honours here followed by the TT in second place. Like the related A4, the A5 Cabriolet uses Audi's electronic key, the standard security features offsetting the supposed vulnerability of the fabric roof.
Driven: Audi A5 Cabriolet
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Performance Car: Audi S8
'Vault like build quality' is a much over-used description but in the Audi S8's case it's actually not far off the truth! Take the side windows for instance. At 5mm thick they're perfect for protection against both wind noise and the kind of smash and grab thieves that might want to pinch your briefcase off the seat.
But this being Audi technology naturally takes pride of place in the S8's security array. The advanced key doesn't need to be removed from your pocket but remains secure. Remote operation and no mechanical lock barrel means the S8 can't be hotwired, a fingerprint recognition sensor able to configure the car to different drivers.
Driven: Audi S8
More pictures of the Audi S8 from Bing
4x4: Toyota Land Cruiser V8
Inevitably the A4-based Audi Q5 does well in the compact 4x4 category but in the full-size off-roader sector it's the second consecutive year at the top for the Toyota Land Cruiser V8. And given the sheer size of the thing who's going to argue with it?
Commenting on the Toyota's success in the awards, Thatcham's Mike Briggs said, "Car manufacturers can be proud of what has been achieved in recent years in terms of security and at Thatcham we use the power of our New Vehicle Security Ratings as a publicly available and easy to understand guide to security levels."
Driven: Toyota Land Cruiser V8
More pictures of the Toyota Land Cruiser from Bing
Executive Car: Citroen C6
Citroen's range-wide commitment to security has paid dividends in the British Insurance Vehicle Security Awards over several years now and the first prize for the C6 should come as little surprise. Once again, laminated side window glass - standard on all C6s - helps with this.
But working with Thatcham has delivered further innovation, scoring well on the contest's assessment of 'peripheral locks and mechanisms' and alarm and immobilisers. Features like shielded locks within the doors to protect against common break-in techniques are just one reason Citroens score so well.
Driven: Citroen C6
More pictures of the Citroen C6 from Bing
Luxury Car: Volkswagen Phaeton
Volkswagen comes second overall in the manufacturer ratings, the Eos, Jetta, Passat, Scirocco, Tiguan and Touareg all tested. But despite several runners up places for cars like the Golf Plus, Passat CC and Tiguan only the post 2008 facelifted Phaeton manages to take a category win.
Tough, laminated side windows boost security, safety and refinement, the Phaeton also including a sophisticated alarm system that can detect interior air pressure changes and even inclination sensors that trigger if someone tries to tow the car away. Wireless ignition and entry also removes the need for traditional, breakable locking mechanisms.
Driven: Volkswagen Phaeton
More pictures of the Volkswagen Phaeton from Bing
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