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Which should you choose: a three- or five-door car?

Which should you choose: a three- or five-door car?


Here are the advantages and disadvantages of three- and five-door cars.

There’s a reason hatchback cars are so popular, and that’s because they offer a little bit of everything. You’ll find a healthy dose of practicality in them, but without being big and intimidating to drive. On top of that, they usually come in any combination of fuel type, engine size and transmission you might desire.

But when it comes to ownership, something many buyers in the market might overlook is whether they should opt for a three-door or a five-door. While some cars are only available as one or the other, many give you the option of both — so it’s worth thinking about what your needs are and how they would be best served here.

But before we get into how to choose, a quick word on something you might be wondering – why the odd number of doors? It’s mostly just manufacturer-speak that has stuck in the mainstream. A five-door actually has four traditional doors, while a three-door just has the two at the front. The fifth and third doors in the name refer to the bootlid.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here are the advantages and disadvantages of three- and five-door cars.

Space – five-doors have more room in the back

Typically, you’ll find that the space in the rear of a five-door is very close to that of the three-door. However, because three-doors tend to have a sportier design, they can have sloping rooflines that eat into headroom, or smaller windows that let in less light and make rear passengers feel more claustrophobic.

Honda Magic seats

You’ll also find that because accessing the rear seats is so much easier in a five-door, you’re more likely to actually use the space. So, while it might not technically be larger, it is in a more practical way.

Access – five doors makes it easier to get in and out

When it comes to access, five-door cars have three-doors beaten again. If you carry more than one passenger on a regular basis, a five-door becomes the obvious choice.

Side veiw of a blue 5 door ford focus

Furthermore, if you have young children and regularly need to put them in the back, reaching through between the seats of a three-door will quickly become tiresome and could put a lot of strain on your back.

Corolla Hybrid

Another advantage comes into play if you’re carrying something large that requires you to fold the rear seats flat. Shimmying it into a three-door could be a pain, but if you can open the rear doors then it’s much easier to shift into place.

One point in favour of three-doors though is that the doors tend to be larger, so getting in and out of the front seats can be easier. Though bear in mind this can make it tricky to open them in tight parking spaces. Swings and roundabouts…

Price – more doors means more cash

The three-door might look like it’s starting to fall behind in this fight, but when it comes to the impact it has on your wallet it starts to claw some points back.

Red Honda civic driving on a ROAD

If you don’t have any inclination towards either option, or you’re happy you don’t need the extra practicality, you can typically save a few hundred pounds by opting for a three-door over a five-door. It could be a simple way to shave a little off your monthly repayments.

Looks – three-doors are usually better-looking

Again, if the practicality of a five-door isn’t essential, you might be swayed by the fact that three-doors typically look better.

Orange 3 door Ford Fiesta

This is particularly true on smaller cars, where designers and engineers have a tough time cramming four doors into a small frame. However, if they only have to fit front doors, there’s more freedom to be creative, often leading to a sleeker window design or sportier, sloping rooflines.

Use – think about what the car needs to do

The final decision comes down to how you’ll use the car. If you tend to carry more than one passenger or you need to regularly get to the back seats for any other reason, a five-door will make your life much easier.

New peugeot 208

However, if it’s just you and maybe one other person in the car, and you’re confident you can put up with a bit less practicality, opting for a three-door could save you a bit of cash and give you a better-looking car as a result.