That means owners can now plug their Apple or Android smartphone into their car via USB and enjoy a range of internet-enhanced features, like audio streaming, voice searches and high-featured sat-nav mapping with live traffic updates – as well as the usual hands-free phone functions.
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It’s not free though – if you want to unlock the capability, you’ll need to visit a Mazda dealer with $495 to get it fitted. On the plus side, given the retrofit can be applied to vehicles as old as a 2014 Mazda 3 or Mazda 2, it’s an easy way of giving an older car a new lease on life.
Of course, your vehicle needs the MZD Connect infotainment hardware to enable the upgrade. Essentially, if your Mazda has a touchscreen display on the dashboard along with a remote control dial on the centre console, it’s eligible.
Compared to putting your phone in a cradle and operating it from there, smartphone mirroring tech is easier to use thanks to proper integration with the steering wheel buttons and its ability to display maps via the much larger dash-mounted touchscreen. It’s safer too, helping keep driver distraction at bay by limiting the need to actually interact with the phone itself and by making many commands – such as entering a navigation destination – voice-activated.
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The BT-50 and the recent update of the CX-9 were the first Mazda vehicles to feature CarPlay and Android Auto integration from factory, and all new Mazdas sold with the MZD Connect system from this point forward will come with smartphone mirroring as standard.