Well Nunns have sorted things out: they arranged for me to bring the batmobile in today to fit a new relay for the rear foglight – it switches to the trailer when the towbar electrics are connected and back to the car’s when it’s disconnected – and a different iPod integration module following Nunns’ discussions wit Mazda Europe.

And lo and behold, it works with my old iPod as well as my new “RexPod”, displaying track number (from the playlist) or artist or track names.


I was in the market for a new pushbike as mine was being skipped – 1988 vintage and starting to show its age – and as my partner and her daughters like to get out and about on bikes.

We ended up at Halfords and after looking at a few bikes, I settled on the Carrera Kraken 09 20″. Carrera pushbikes are – as far as I know – only sold through Halfords who use their purchasing clout to bring a relatively high specification bike to market at a lower price point than you would otherwise expect.

Having already decided to get a pushbike for London – my base during the week – I started looking at Decathlon’s stock of similar spec’d bikes and found them to be more expensive: price matching produced a heavier bike with cable-operated brakes, for instance.

So I looked at Halfords’ website and was horrified to see that the Carrera Kraken was being advertised at 20% off for web sales even though you could collect in store! Another order placed and I went to collect it at £320 (boxed) from Halfords’ Old Kent Road store. The assistant failed to locate a boxed one as it seems that their stock was assembled and on show. The bikes hadn’t been fully built or safety checked so I have arranged to pick it up this evening.

Thule 970 Xpress

Thule 970 Xpress Folded

As the bike will be fully assembled, shoving it inside my Mazda RX-8 R3 isn’t now going to be an option. I had ordered a Thule 970 Express from Wiggle (at £54 delivered) but they hadn’t processed the order after a day, so thinking this might happen, I had cancelled the order before going to Halfords. They had some in stock (at £60) so I bought one. It fits to the demountable towbar in just a minute or so and folds flat when not needed but I do find the fact that the whole shebang is effectively hanging off one support only a little disconcerting.

So I picked up the Carrera this evening and used the Thule in anger: loading the bike was relatively straightforward and I made good progress, shall we say, back to the flat over the speed humps and sleeping policemen so it had a good chance to break free and didn’t.

Back in the garage, I paused to take some crappy phone shots:

Carrera, Thule and RX-8 R3

Carrera, Thule and RX-8 R3

Well it seems that all is not well with the R3, so it was back to the dealers today for fettling.

The rear foglight has not been working since I got the car: it turns out that the wiring loom to the towbar fitted by the dealers, Nunns, has a relay that should switch between the foglight on the trailer and the foglight on the car. Whilst the foglight on the trailer works fine, the one on the car doesn’t. Sadly this wasn’t picked up in the PDI when I bought the car. Parts are now on order.

Of equal concern is the (very expensive) iPod integration module that doesn’t seem to actually want to integrate any iPod with the Bose stereo system. Mazda list a whole load of Apple devices that aren’t compatible with the module – which, by the way, cuts off the auxiliary input circuit so you’re completely screwed if it doesn’t integrate – and I found that none of our iPods of varying age worked at all with it. They all connect fine and some can seemingly draw power. All display the Mazda logo. All have their functionality removed from the devices whilst connected. None actually work with the stereo system.

Including the brand spanking new iPod nano I got for my birthday specifically for the car. Ah…

So Nunns will be talking to Mazda over the next few days to try to find out what’s wrong. If they can’t fix it, I’ve already told them I want the auxiliary socket reconnecting and my money back for the horrendously expensive integration module.

iPod Integration

A bit of a nightmare, this. The R3 comes with an auxiliary socket in one of the cubbyholes to allow you to connect an MP3 player to it, but all the play or selection functions have to be performed from the player.

When I ordered the car, I also spec’d it to include Mazda’s iPod integration module which is by no means cheap.

And it’s full of fail!

So far, I’ve tried it with three iPod nanos of varying age and although all connect to the system fine, none of them will actually play through the Bose system. And worse still, fitting the iPod Integration Module apparently disables the auxiliary socket as well! So I’m worse off with it fitted.

I’m giving it one more try: with a birthday coming up, I’ve asked for a new, 5th Generation 16GB iPod nano which should – in theory at least – work. We’ll see. Mazda’s Customer Service department did not have a clue when I specifically asked them the question…

The Bose audio system – which is fabulous – also includes Bluetooth telephone compatibility which dispenses with a car kit. It allows you to pair a number of phones with the car as well.

Sadly, it appears that one manufacturer’s implementation of Bluetooth differs from another and I have had some ‘issues’ getting one of my phones to work properly. I presently have a Nokia N97 for general use, a BlackBerry Curve 8900 for work and a Sony Ericsson W595 as a spare (those hyperlinks take you to the results of Mazda’s tests on the handsets).

Whilst all three phones successfully paired with the R3, the Nokia will only receive calls through the audio system and make calls only if dialled from the handset. Both the other phones make and receive calls by voice alone, which is effectively another nail in the coffin for the Nokia.