Audi has won What Car?'s/Thatcham Security Award.
Sophisticated technology has made it much harder to steal cars. Key coding and intelligent engine management systems have blunted the amateur criminal's charge, so the public assumes manufacturers have won the fight against thieves.
Yet theft from cars is still a massive problem in the UK. Mobile phones, laptop computers and satellite-navigation systems are now at the heart of modern living and, if left in full view of the villains, still risk being stolen.
During a 12-month period in 2006/2007, there were 1,689,000 recorded thefts from vehicles.
These figures tell us security is still an issue for motorists, so we've teamed up with research centre Thatcham for a new category.
We plan to make the What Car?/Thatcham Security Award a permanent fixture in our Car of the Year Awards, and the inaugural winner is Audi UK for the security systems installed in the A3, A4 (excluding the cabriolet), TT, Q7, A6 and A8 models.
The award is based on Thatcham's New Vehicle Security Assessment (NVSA) criteria, using the results of the New Vehicle Security Ratings (NSVR) scheme featured in the What Car? New Car Guide.
A host of security systems are tested for quality: from door and ignition locks to the effectiveness of the ignition key code.
Points are also awarded for cars fitted with laminated glass, marked parts, secondary mechanical immobilisation systems and additional security features (e.g. locking rear seats).
Thatcham's experts also assessed the security set-ups designed to prevent thefts from cars. Again, they looked at all the systems, including the quality of peripheral locks and mechanisms, and the alarm.
Audi came out on top as every variant in each of the six model ranges complied with the selection criteria. Thatcham's vehicle security manager, Mike Briggs, said: 'Audi is without doubt the best manufacturer for vehicle security this year.
Yet the results show how committed the most progressive manufacturers are to improving vehicle security and offering better security solutions for their customers.'