Sometime during Model Year (MY) 2019 (may actually wait for MY 2020), Mazda is reportedly switching suppliers for the CMU (Connectivity Master Unit) headunits (the Infotainment system) to be installed in the MX-5, from Visteon/JCI to Panasonic (produced for Toyota).
If this in fact happens, the question remains – what will Fiat specify for 2019 124 Spiders?
- will they continue getting the current JCI -built systems? >> (I kinda doubt it)
- will they get the 3rd-generation Toyota Entune system like the MX-5s? >> (lowest shared development costs – this is my bet)
- or will they get a uConnect system like the rest of FCA’s vehicles? >> (seems the least likely)
The Entune, which is a result of a joint effort between Toyota and Mazda, pairs with your in-vehicle smartphone, but does so with it’s proprietary Entune app (which is only free for the first 3 years) with the intent initially to circumvent Apple’s licensing fees (CarPlay) and Google’s data stronghold (Android Auto) by working with data service competitors like Inrex (traffic data). That doesn’t preclude Mazda from going in a different direction with their own apps that could include CarPlay and Android Auto, as I’m sure this hardware already is capable of supporting those interfaces. I guess it depends on how much pressure future customers relay to Mazda Marketing. 😉
UPDATE: Toyota has now confirmed that CarPlay will be available in select 2019-and-later vehicles, meaning that they are probably caving in, hopefully making it easier for Fiat (and perhaps Mazda to a lesser degree) to stray from Toyota’s Entune app, and instead actually incorporating the public’s wishes for CarPlay and Android Auto as well.
Playing catch-up to competitors such as General Motors, the latest generation of Entune will include a Wi-Fi hotspot courtesy of Verizon. Vehicles equipped with the service will allow users to connect up to five devices at a time. Additionally, Wi-Fi-equipped Entune 3.0 vehicles will receive real-time map updates.
Entune 3.0 also benefits from an improved mobile app that includes common features in this space, such as remote start and remote locking and unlocking of the car. Less common is the ability to set parameters for teen or guest drivers. Should the vehicle travel outside a set boundary area or exceed a specified speed limit, a notification is sent to the owner’s phone.
Finally all Entune units will now offer the system’s full app suite, including Pandora, Yelp, iHeartRadio, and Slacker, among others (a feature that previously was exclusive to the top-spec system).
So you’ll need the app to obtain “Connected” navigation, which uses (and only functions) when your phone can access data. Apparently, in order to have access to “Integrated” (built-in) navigation, that doesn’t need a data connection, you’ll need the premium version of Entune installed, which may or may not be offered for MY 2019 roadsters.
For the same reason that uConnect units aren’t in current 124 Spiders, I strongly suspect that Entune units will be part of the MY 2019 124 Spider‘s dashboard if they show up in MX-5s, since both vehicle’s architecture are so very similar.
Meanwhile, all of our systems in MY 2017+2018 124 Spiders will probably remain as-built with the exception of software updates (Gracenote music database and Navigation map) in coming years. I predict that we may get lucky with Fiat releasing one firmware upgrade later in the next year or two , once Mazda is happy with a version that proves to be a rock-solid improvement in MY 2016-2018 MX-5 vehicles. It will probably include CarPlay and Android Auto capability, but only in conjunction with an upgraded USB hub module retrofit.