What Else Can You Expect From Our Mazda5?
Our Mazda5 project is slowly coming along. It’s not particularly sexy or performance-oriented, but it serves as a mainstream platform for exploring automotive technology, and that's why we like it. This round of upgrades focused on little niceties to make the car better overall. The ScanGaugeE was a great addition, providing us with more fuel economy data, coolant temperature, and battery voltage information. It’s unfortunate that automakers are cutting back on the number of gauges presented in the cluster, though we understand how too much information can be just as off-putting as not enough. At least Linear Logic makes it easy to add those functions back with a simple OBD-II-based device.
We’re disappointed that the LED headlights didn’t work out. But the swap to H9 bulbs is much more affordable, yielding noticeably more usable light output for only $20 (unless you want a plug-and-play harness). While HIDs are often the first suggestion for increased light output, I'm still unsure of how the halogen projectors will work with an HID drop-in kit. A couple of Mazdas247 community members are reporting good experiences with the excellent halogen projectors, but I'm still on the fence.
Goshers' blind spot monitoring system is a practical addition to the Mazda5. I didn’t realize how useful it'd be until the rainy season started and I had to drive around at night. Glare from the wet roads, a lack of street lights and poor lighting from other vehicles made spotting cars in the blind spot more difficult than during our beautiful summer. All the while, Goshers' kit continues to detect obstacles in my blind spot, so we have no problem recommending the system to drivers interested in adding this technology to a vehicle without it. It can be overly sensitive to non-threats, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
LED-based interior lighting is easy to add and affordable; if you don't have it already, consider an upgrade. And go with a reputable brand rather than trying to save money on a cheap eBay kit. In the case of Sylvania's ZEVO LEDs, the fitment is much better since they're designed as direct replacements for the factory incandescent bulbs.
What about the value of ECU tuning? We have high hopes for Mazda's MZR motor, which should yield a 10-15hp gain by simply optimizing for premium gasoline. We'll have to wait for the next round of upgrades for the benchmark data, though.
Last up are the Yokohoma Advan Sport A/S tires and Mazdaspeed3 wheels. They aren't technology-oriented, but I still love them. As it starts raining heavily up in Washington, I'm noticing much better grip on the road. Sure, you might say that it's silly to put high-performance all-season tires on a minivan. But it's also unheard of to ride around in a van with a manual transmission. We're just quirky like that.
In the next installment, we'll present a walk-through of our stereo upgrade, including Alpine's INE-W957HD head unit, Type R speakers and a four-channel amp to match. The Mazda5 is also getting ambient foot well lighting via a Sylvania ZEVO LED lighting kit. Mechanically, the car is getting a set of Megan Racing coilovers to stiffen the suspension. That'll lower the 5 somewhere between 1.5-2 inches to minimize wheel gap.
The visual changes should be fairly minor. A couple of items are getting wrapped with gloss black vinyl by 253WrapZ for contrast and paint protection. We had the company wrap the taillights in a light smoke film to clean up the back end, and were impressed with the work.
Eventually, we’ll have the interior redone in leather with climate-controlled seating to make the car more comfortable in the summer heat and winter cold. Even further down the line, there are plans to turbocharge the Mazda5. I'd like to see it making between 250 and 270hp, which would make our test platform a lot more fun to drive. I'm even toying with the idea of replacing the head unit with a tablet, since the mobile hardware is much faster. Working out the logistics for steering wheel controls and the lack of detailed audio adjustments is making my head hurt, though.
Clearly, the project is coming along. We’re open to suggestions for anything and everything you want to see installed in the car.