Saturday 19 March 2016

MX-5 Roadster ND Stereo Systems

The new MX-5 had a choice of three stereo systems at launch, here I will refer to them as basic, standard, and premium. There were two different display screens depending on the grade of car chosen, either a low profile LCD screen or the larger MZD Connect colour display were used.

The small LCD screen was only available with lower specification cars and was part of the basic 4-speaker stereo. This display unit features a text display showing a clock and simple information such as track number and radio station name. There is a single central control knob for power and volume, and buttons either side for radio station presets, radio tuning, and navigation for playing music files.

MZD Connect is Mazda's name for its integrated information/entertainment system. This system uses a 7" colour touchscreen in a central position on top of the dashboard. As well as playing music, this system can be used for navigation, the rear parking camera, car settings & diagnostics, read out and reply to text messages, social media, and making voice command handsfree phonecalls.

All UK models feature steering wheel mounted audio controls, making it easy to operate the stereo while driving. The Japanese NR-A model uses the basic stereo, but does without the wheel mounted controls and just has a plain steering wheel. Also in Japan, owners could specify a DVD player/TV tuner for the MZD Connect system. In the USA some models come with satellite radio and feature an extra shark fin style antenna mounted in the centre of the bootlid.

Basic Stereo

The simplest audio system available on the MX-5 consisted of four speakers, CD player, and the small LCD dashboard display unit. Each door had one 165mm woofer and a small 25mm tweeter was mounted at the bottom of each windscreen pillar. The LCD display is able to show a digital clock together with basic information such as radio station and CD track numbers.

This stereo also has an AM/FM radio, a single USB/AUX input for playing music files, and iPod connectivity. The CD (or DVD/CD) drive is mounted between the seats and is capable of playing burned music files.

Standard Stereo

The MX-5's middle ground stereo adds two 50mm speakers mounted in the headrest of the driver's seat, for a total of six speakers. This stereo includes a DAB digital radio and Bluetooth phone integration with call controls on the steering wheel. It also introduces the Mazda Connect Infotainment system which adds a 7" colour touchscreen display in place of the small LCD, dual USB inputs, and the Media Commander control unit next to the handbrake.

The positioning of the MZD screen was studied extensively, with Mazda analysing driver's eye movement speed, and experimenting with various sizes of screen and text layouts to find the best solution. In the end Mazda opted for a 7" display unit which sits nicely atop the dashboard, is within reach of the driver, and doesn't interfere with the view of the road.

SD Card, USB, and AUX inputs. The button labeled 'RF' will operate the retractable fastback with a warning light visible in the space next to the passenger seatbelt light.

The Media Commander forms part of Mazda's "Heads Up" cabin design. It allows the driver to control the stereo and navigation unit without having to look down at buttons and keeps the most frequently used controls within easy reach.

Premium Bose Stereo

Mazda's top audio offering is again provided by Bose and was standard on the Sport and Sport Nav models. This premium stereo system features the MZD Connect system, nine Bose speakers, and a Bose digital seven-channel amplifier with Audiopilot2 noise compensation technology. Nav grade cars use the MZD unit to display navigation maps, and there is an SD card slot for updating software.

As well as two 165mm woofers in the doors, there are two 25mm neodymium tweeters in the windscreen pillars, four 50mm ultranearfield speakers in the seat headrests, and a 130mm subwoofer mounted in a six litre bass enclosure under the dashboard. The digital amplifier is positioned under the soft top.

As with the previous generation, the Bose stereo includes an Audiopilot microphone which is able to monitor background noise levels and adjust the stereo output automatically to compensate, it also has different modes for when the roof is up or down.

For full details of the MZD Connect system please see the dedicated website

Rear Parking Camera

An interesting optional extra in some markets is the MX-5's rear view camera. This small wide-angle camera is made by Panasonic and mounts to the rear bumper in between the licence plate lights. There are several options for how it is actually used.

The first is for cars without the MZD Connect system and therefore no 7" colour screen. These cars can be fitted with a special replacement rear view mirror which has a 4.3" LCD screen integrated into the glass. With reverse gear selected, the image from the rear view camera is displayed within the rear view mirror.

For cars that do have the MZD Connect system, the image from the rear view camera is displayed on the larger colour screen, giving a clear view of the surroundings. The third option is for cars with the MZD Connect system and is also fitted with the rear parking sensors. These cars can display the image from the camera as well as a graphic readout from the parking sensors.

Reversing an MX-5 has never been easier.