Mazda CX-9 SUV and Mazda 3 sedan/hatch in Deluxe Plus variants debut Apple’s smartphone integration tech for brand in Singapore
Mazda has announced the first two models in its lineup that pack Apple’s smartphone integration tech, CarPlay, as the CX-9 sport utility vehicle (SUV) retailing from $185,800 with COE, and Deluxe Plus variants of the Mazda 3 1.5 sedan and hatchback, retailing at $92,300 with COE.
Mazda CX-9 starts from $185k with COE
Although it’s not the first East Asian brand to make headway in this area, Mazda’s roll out of CarPlay does indicate that officially-supported smartphone integration (by both carmaker and handset maker) is truly becoming mainstream.
Honda was the first to tout smartphone integration, albeit not with CarPlay but its own HondaLink system which requires a Lightning/USB port and HDMI connection, that was in 2014 with the current-gen Jazz hatchback (recently facelifted this year). That was then changed to ‘proper’ CarPlay beginning in 2016 with the current Civic.
Mazda 3 1.5 Hatchback Deluxe Plus variant is the highest grade of Mazda 3 available, goes for $94,300 with COE
Honda was the first to tout smartphone integration, albeit not with CarPlay but its own HondaLink system which requires a Lightning/USB port and HDMI connection, that was in 2014 with the current-gen Jazz hatchback (recently facelifted this year).
If you’re an Android user, the good news is that Android Auto is finally approved and available as an official download – this only happened very recently, and until now, the only way to get Android Auto was to sideload the APK. The vast majority of systems that support CarPlay also support Android Auto, including both Mazda and Kia’s systems.
Of course smartphone integration was first seen in luxury cars – Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche – where the pre-requisites for smartphone integration (namely a colour screen and USB port) already exist.
Additional costs at the inexpensive end of the market mean they’ve not been present on inexpensive or mainstream cars until recent times, which is why mainstream brands haven’t supported smartphone integration until now.
Mazda says the prerequisite for CarPlay is the presence of the MZD Connect infotainment system, and CarPlay will be gradually rolled out to other models in the line-up too.
How does it work?
Take your iPhone with sanctioned, approved and totally kosher Lightning™ cable and plug it into the USB port in the armrest. Since CarPlay is pre-loaded on iPhones, just swipe to accept and activate.
An iPhone-style home screen appears on the infotainment display, and you can control it with touch or the rotary controller, since Mazda’s MZD Connect system has both inputs.
Not all apps are mirrored on the display, but everything you typically would need while driving is there, such as music, navigation, messages, calls and so on. You can also talk to and use Siri, which is particularly useful as you can request it to read out messages, dictate replies, and do all the usual things with the assistant.
Is it worth using?
Definitely. Let’s face it, we’ve reached the point where some people would rather give up their car rather than their smartphones. And given how useful smartphones are, there’s almost no avoiding using them in the car itself -but not while driving of course.
The key benefit of CarPlay is avoiding ‘handphone driving’ (up to $1,000 fine, six months jail) but we also feel it’s a less distracting option at the same time.
Mazda’s system is smart enough that it disables touch while the car is moving, and using the rotary control plus the big MZD Connect display is far easier than using a phone mount. You don’t have to unlock the phone, dig through the menus, or type out words one-handed either.