The waterproof BMW Digital Key is now an option on the German car maker’s most affordable model, but it comes at a cost.
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Hiding your car key under a beach towel or in your shoes could soon be a thing of the past.

Most modern car keys can’t be taken into the water and contain tiny hi-tech immobilisers and cost in excess of $200 to replace.

Surfers, beach-goers and bushwalkers have faced this dilemma for more than a decade as more vehicles adopted sensor keys, but an increasing number of car companies are coming up with innovative options.

Jaguar and Land Rover released a key embedded into a thick rubber wrist strap (pictured below) three years ago as an option on selected models, now BMW is making its waterproof slimline smartcard key available on its most affordable car.

The BMW Digital Key is as slim as a credit card but can be used to replace a conventional key.

It is standard equipment on the new BMW M135 hot hatch ($63,990 plus on-road costs) and an option on the new BMW 118i ($42,990).

The only catch is the cost: it’s an extra $731 on the BMW 118i as part of the optional Comfort Access package, which also includes a foot motion sensor for the power tailgate.

The BMW Digital Key was introduced on the BMW X5 and X7 SUVs in December 2018 and has since been rolled out on the 8 Series coupe and 3 Series sedan.

But the BMW 1 Series is the cheapest car in Australia to offer such technology. The BMW Digital Key can also be used via near-field technology on certain Android smartphones, but is not yet available on Apple devices with near-field technology.

BMW says the Digital Key smart card is waterproof as is and does not need to be placed in a sleeve, but it is important that it does not bend or snap.