FCA sure doesn’t help clear the confusion many Spider owners have thinking that our systems will compare with the Uconnect® systems in all of the other Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep / Ram / Fiat vehicles that they might already be familiar with, including the many informative app screens, Garmin navigation, Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay® and Climate control screens. Like every other electronic module in the car except for the ECU, our 124 Spider CMUs (Connectivity Master Unit a.k.a. the Infotainment System) are actual Mazda MX-5 components, which is why they have nothing to do with Uconnect systems.
The firmware for every CMU includes NNG’s iGO navigation software, but the option is useless until a Nav SD card containing your country’s NAVTEQ (a Nokia company) map data, is inserted in the SD card slot.
HERE is now the provider of NAVTEQ map data and it was also a Nokia company, but guess what Nokia did in August 2015? On August 3, 2015 Nokia announced an agreement to sell HERE to a consortium of three German automotive companies, Audi AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG, at an enterprise value of 2.8 billion euros. The consortium will jointly own HERE, which will continue to operate as a separate business and serve other customers besides its owners.
If you purchase your vehicle with the 7″ display screen, but without the Navigation option, know that you simply need to procure the Fiat Navigation SD card (Mopar Part # 68366118AA; don’t get the Mazda or Toyota Scion version!) to enable most of the Navigation features. Since you also wont have the XM option (which requires a “shark fin” antenna on your trunk lid), which is apparently needed to receive live traffic updates, that will be the feature that will not be available to you.
I didn’t realize I wouldn’t be able to get live traffic updates when I purchased my SD card, but nevertheless it is nice:
- Not having to attach an extraneous GPS device to my windshield in this small vehicle
- Having your audio routing instructions overriding your music and routed to your headrest speaker
- Having your visual routing instructions to a programmed destination appear in the status bar, even when you are displaying screens not Navigation related
- Having upcoming streets appear in the status bar, even when no destination has been programmed, and even when you are displaying screens not Navigation related
- Having visual speed limit warnings, as well as notification of red light/speed cameras show up while in the Navigation screen
Can be annoying (but can be turned off in settings):
- Repetitive audio speed limit warnings can get annoying as they will stop when you slow down, but resume if you again exceed the speed limit
- Repetitive audio red light/speed camera warnings will continue to be announced until you have exited that intersection
If your car came with fully-functional Navigation:
- You will be notified of upcoming traffic issues, even if you have no planned route in the NAV
- You will be offered alternative routes to get around traffic and construction delays
- According to this Feature Availability document, if your vehicle has the Bose system, your Spider is prepped for installing the CD player that Fiat doesn’t factory-install, like Mazda does. “Remote CD Prep” probably means that the wiring harness (also used in the Grand Touring MX-5) is tucked in near the rear bulkhead
According to many official Fiat publications, live traffic data is actually supposed to be provided via FM Radio Data System (RDS) data that is…
- presumably already programmed into the Infotainment software (but disabled)
- broadcast as a free service at many large-city FM & HD radio stations
- was planned for the 124 Spider, based on the owner’s manual (click to enlarge)…
- Fiat websites and corporate materials (aside from the owner’s and users’s manuals) still claim that this feature is programmed into our Infotainment systems, as evidenced in this screen shot taken 3/25/2017 (click to enlarge)…
Make sure the Navigation SD card that you purchase matches the region of your firmware (which hopefully is the region you reside in). You can find your OS firmware version and region by selecting Settings > System > About > Version Information. As an example, my current version is 56.00.521 NA N, deciphered as:
Region & SatNav Suffix Legend
NA is for North America, USA, Canada, Mexico regions ONLY ⇐ mine
EU is for Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia regions
4A or ADR is for Australia/NZ/Thailand/Philippines/South Africa/South America/Oceania regions
JP is for Japan ONLY
N is the ‘SatNav’ protocol belonging to NNG (for all regions except JP) ⇐ mine
M is the ‘SatNav’ protocol belonging to Matsukone (exclusively for JP)
If you find your system rebooting on its own once in a while, especially near airports or large microwave towers, it is most likely strong electromagnetic interference that is disrupting the system. Airport radar or similar. My Mio C230 GPS unit was really bad in that regards due to very poor shielding. Mazda has admitted to poor shielding in the North American models, and that is the main reason why WiFi had to be disabled.
- ⇓ To install your SD card, just push down, at the same time trying to pull out the top portion of the SD cover, which is to the left of your USB ports. The cover is hinged on the bottom, which is why you want to concentrate on the top-side. However, if you would rather not risk breaking your fingernail, using a small flat-blade screwdriver and gently prying the top of the cover away at the indent, is much easier!
⇓ I personally feel that Mazda should have retained the SD card slot cover design they had in the 2014 models with the convenient finger pull (shown below).
- After opening, insert your SD card label-side up, all the way in and let go. It should spring back out a tiny bit so that you know it has latched itself into place.
- Close the cover and either start your car or push the start button once (without pushing in the clutch or brake) to put the car in auxiliary (AUX) mode
- Select Navigation from the main menu and observe that Navigation starts up
- Navigation will load in 30 to 90 seconds
- The GPS will find satellites in 1 – 5 minutes, display a map indicating your location and will then be ready for you to program in a destination
- Note: To remove the SD card, don’t just pull the edge of the card, but instead push the card all the way in and let go, allowing the card to eject partway – then you can pull it out.
- I wonder if the dealers convinced Mazda to “hide” the SD slot so that they could get customers to pay for “installation” of the Nav option 😉
- Then again, maybe being so obvious with the slot cover labelled “SD”, too many people tried loading music files or otherwise corrupting the Nav card and running up the warranty bill.
Navigation Guidance Volume
The volume for all Navigation related audio instructions that are fed to the left speaker in the driver’s headrest, is independent of the Entertainment audio volume and can be adjusted with either volume control ONLY while the guidance announcements are being made or by going to the last icon in the Navigation screen Menu Bar (Settings) > Guidance Settings > Guidance Volume and adjusting to a comfortable level for the current journey’s road noise. One feature that I really wish would be incorporated is a MUTE function for Navigation audio guidance.
Backing up / Updating your SD card Maps
A new SD Nav card has the following 2 files in the contents folder:
and naturally, you can not use the the Fiat Connect Toolbox to backup or update the Nav card in this NEW state. It must be activated with your VIN number first by installing it into your vehicle. When the CMU detects a new SD Nav card in it’s slot:
- those 2 files are deleted
- an encrypted file device.nng (containing your initial GPS fix, VIN number, etc.) is created in the license folder
- the card is now ready to be updated via Fiat Connect Toolbox
It’s now March of 2017 and I’ve given up on the North American Fiat 124 Spider Connect site ever working, even though that is the link Fiat is emailing to new vehicle purchasers. The Mazda and Fiat Connect Toolbox (map update) sites are actually managed by HERE MapCare. I suspect that there may be a VIN platform verification in place (NE or NF), since I’ve verified that the Mazda Toolbox won’t accommodate the Fiat SD card.
Thanks to a European blog reader (thanks Andrea!), I discovered that North American 124 owners can go to the European Fiat 124 Spider Connect site to download Toolbox (runs in Windows, but an OSX version is now also available) and alerted all my blog readers:
- works just fine with your North American SD card and probably most other global regions as well.
a map update dated July 2017 is available! (It’s about 100 MB larger than the January 2017 version)
- backing up and restoring your card can be done there as well.
- if you have difficulty running the toolbox, you may need to select “Run as administrator” and make exceptions in your firewall and anti virus settings.
If you have a PC, you can manually copy all files in the SD to a folder within your Documents folder. Better engage the lock on the SD card before you do that with a Mac though, to prevent incompatible files from being added to the card.
Questions have come up as to whether the Nav cards available on eBay in the $100 range (vs. $400+ from the dealer) are legitimate. The only way the eBay cards can be clones is if these vendors are either able to change the CID (serial #) of the card to match the source, or if they know the algorithm to change the lock code to match the CID of the target SD cards. Just making plain copies of an official card will not work.
The cards may look like mass-produced copies from a master, but each one is actually produced individually so that the license is locked to an embedded CID number (similar to a serial number) put there by the SD card manufacturer. Once you’ve inserted the card in your vehicle and driven it 62 miles (100 km), your card becomes VIN-locked (rather than CID-locked), meaning it will only work in your vehicle. This would be an ideal time to backup your Nav card once again, as you will now be able to restore the files onto a different SD card should your original card become unusable, and that copy will also function for your vehicle only.
One large advantage to this ability is that you can purchase an Ultra SDHC Class 10 card (faster reads), and after formatting it FAT 32 and copying the files from your original VIN-locked card onto it, use that card instead – so that, in theory, your Nav boots up quicker. The hardware is said not to be compatible with SDXC though, so don’t try those cards (this may not be the case for 2017 vehicles and newer, but I’ve yet to confirm).
Based on my experience, if the backup-card copy (which will also be VIN-locked to your car) doesn’t work in your vehicle directly, it should after you update the card using the 124 Spider Toolbox . Then you are able to put aside your original card in case you ever need Navigation related warranty work done or need to create another backup. Now that I’ve switched to my Ultra SD card copy, I don’t feel that my Navigation loads up any quicker, but it could be that the newer map version has more data to load into memory.
So just to reiterate…
- restoring the card using the Toolbox is different than copying the card
- after your card is VIN-locked, the license is no longer paired to the CID, so copies of your card will also work in your vehicle
- you can not add your own files (music, audio books, etc.) to these cards as that will result in errors
The Mazda diagram below explains why you shouldn’t try to use your Nav card in vehicles other than the one your card is intended for…
Another of the main complaints I, and many others, have with this system is the lack of a compass. If you don’t have Navigation, you’re shown a nice compass screen in an effort to entice you to purchase/install the Nav SD card so that you’ll then have Navigation, and guess what, you’ll never see that (or any other) nice compass again, at least not while you’re in the predominant 3D cockpit view. In 2D-North Up view, you’ll be able to visualize the direction you are travelling, similar to the Where Am I view, but a simple compass, where the red needle pointer aligns itself with North? – Nope.
Some point to the compass button in the map manipulation view (shown above), but that is not a normal viewing screen, and the compass serves more as a toggle button between 2D-North Up view and 2D-Route Up view. You can change from the cockpit view to the map manipulation view by swiping the screen or by moving the Commander knob up/down/left/right (rotating the knob zooms in/out).
The MX-5 RF is debuting a new cluster gauge (the left-most gauge) which is actually a TFT screen presented in a similar style to the mechanical gauges, but which can be customized to show a variety of different information, unlike our LCD info screen which is very limited in it’s capabilities. It is officially called the 4.6″ Multi-Information color TFT display and I bet a turbo boost gauge could easily be accommodated in place of the unused monotone water temperature gauge (the color version functions nicely).
Anyways, it appears that a compass has been added to the primary screen to make up for the deficiency in the Navigation screens (and no Heads-Up Display). The 2018 124 Spider will also come with the upgraded Multi-Information TFT Display, but you’ll need to order the Technology package to get it in the Classica model.
I wonder if it will include a turbo boost gauge 😉