What is a 3-door car?

The popular 3-door hatchback can offer an all-round package of practicality, affordability and ease of use - particularly around town

Simon Ostler
Aug 10, 2021

The idea of a three-door car might seem a bit odd at first. Surely no one's driving around in a car with two doors on one side and one door on the other? Well no, they aren't.

Anyone referring to a three-door car is actually including the boot in their calculations. In the case of hatchbacks, the boot hatch is considered as an extra door, because it can technically be used as an entrance into the car itself. The same reasoning is behind the concept of the five-door car.

Three-door cars are pretty common on UK roads, they tend to be smaller in size, although there is the occasional outlier such as theprevious-generation Range Rover Evoque to buck the trend.

In many cases, a manufacturer will offer a three-door and five-door version of the same car. You can get both three-door and five-door versions of the Ford Fiesta, the Vauxhall Corsa and even the Audi A3. But the popularity of the three-door has dwindled in more recent years, so several three-door models including the A3 have been discontinued in their latest guises.

Used 3-door cars

Most three-door models currently available can be categorised as either city cars or superminis, and these are generally smaller models that are best suited to driving in town. But there are some larger alternatives on offer such as three-door Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf models, while there is also a three-door version of the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Defender. So you're options are wide reaching in terms of size, price and quality.

There are currently 2465 three-door cars available on BuyaCar, with prices starting from £4,427 or £104 per month, here are some of our favourite three-door options.

Why choose a 3-door car?

A three-door car can cater to a specific yet varied set of needs. If you require the boot space of a larger hatchback, but would prefer to drive something that looks small and nippy, and you rarely or never intend to offer a seat to more than a single passenger, a three-door model is probably going to appeal to you.

Where smaller three-door models such as the Citroen C1 or Volkswagen Up might be limited in terms of performance by smaller engines and simplistic engineering, a three-door version of a larger car will often benefit from the same more powerful engines, better brakes and better suspension.

In many cases, the lack of two rear doors helps to give the car a more dynamic appearance, with longer front doors and smaller rear windows giving off a sportier vibe more akin to something like a Ford Mustang. But the difference is often only skin deep, meaning the boot space in the back remains as usable as in the five-door version, and unfortunately your three-door Fiesta is unlikely to be as fast as a Mustang.

There is of course the one major downside of the three-door car, and that is the lack of easy access to the rear seats. In most cases, a three-door hatchback will still offer two or three seats in the back, but the lack of rear doors makes climbing into them, or strapping children into them, something of a logistical nightmare.

This makes three-door cars something of a car for the moment. They're great until you need those rear seats, but then their diminishing popularity might make them difficult to sell on when you decide you need two extra doors.

However, if you can look past the vastly reduced usability of the rear seats and you prefer the style of a three-door car, then a three-door car is what you should pick.

3-door cars: pros and cons

Pros

 Sporty looks
 Enjoyable to drive
 Plenty of boot space

Cons

 Not much cheaper than five-door models
 Lack of rear seat access
 No good for families

 

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