Mazda2: Aftermarket vs. factory

  • Mazda's stereo system lacks a USB connection
  • Optional USB port available for around £180
  • Aftermarket alternatives could prove preferable

For a small car the Mazda2 is surprisingly well equipped.

Besides the usual niceties such as electric windows, it also comes with upmarket features like cruise and climate control.

These make it much easier to live with on a daily basis, and mean it's less tiring to drive for long distances.

One thing that puzzles me, however, is the absence of a USB connection. Besides being necessary for listening to music from memory sticks, and allowing for proper interfacing with MP3 players, they also make a convenient charging point for mobile phones.

No Mazda2, as standard, comes with a USB port. This feature is standard on similarly priced competitors, like the Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Swift.

Instead, in the Mazda, you get an auxiliary connection nestled between the front seats. While this at least means you can listen to music from mobile devices, it does mean that you can’t control or charge them.

If you want USB functionality through the standard Mazda stereo, you’ll have to pick the ‘iPod & USB adaptor’ option when specifying your Mazda2. It costs a not-insignificant £176.99, excluding fitting.

Usefully, it does allow you to skip tracks on your iPod, iPhone, iPad or memory stick with the steering wheel controls. The only negative is that it won’t display the track titles on the stereo’s display, but at least it provides you with a neat and tidy solution.

It still seems expensive to me, however. For around £130 you could get a good aftermarket stereo with a USB connection, full iPod or iPhone control and Bluetooth connectivity. Besides being potentially superior to the standard stereo, the added functionality would make the Mazda2 an even more attractive proposition.

You might be thinking “Ah, but then I wouldn’t be able to use the Mazda’s steering wheel controls, and it wouldn’t fit properly.” Well, for approximately £90 you could buy a full fitting kit, which would include a suitable surround and adaptors for the Mazda’s controls and speakers.

So, for a total of around £220 you could have a good quality stereo system fitted, which would have more features than the original and most likely sound better too. That’s only about £40 more than the optional factory USB connection alone.

Put the original stereo on eBay and you might even reclaim some of your outlay. Either way, it’s one of those instances where an aftermarket solution may prove preferable to original equipment. You could even retain the standard bits, just in case you want to put them back later.

Provided you use quality parts, it could even make your car easier to sell when the time comes.

Current mileage: 5,076 miles

Average mpg: 48.30mpg