2014 Mazda 3: The License Plate
March 14, 2014
One of the new 2014 Mazda 3's many virtues is its sharp styling, especially at the front end. Unfortunately, should you not live in Arizona, Indiana, Florida or 16 other like-minded states (plus five Canadian provinces/territories and Puerto Rico), your pretty new Mazda 3 will be besmirched by a ridiculously placed front license plate.
Mazda certainly isn't alone in this folly, but how does any carmaker design a car without taking into account the front license plate? It's not like Japan, Europe or other global markets go without them, and only Californians (to my knowledge) take their chances by ignoring front plate laws to maintain their cars' pristine visages.
Now, it's certainly not unheard of for manufacturers to provide an alternative mounting location off to a side. Alfa Romeo and the Mitsubishi Evo are some examples, while there are also some aftermarket options. Brackets that screw into the factory tow hook are a popular alternative as well. The Mazda 3 has such a tow hook (what looks like a small door in the bumper), but its location really wouldn't improve things in this case.
Therefore, Mazda 3 owners have three choices: Suffer the indignity of a dopey front end, defy Johnny Law, or move to a civilized state like Kansas.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor