Five doors or three – which is best for you?

Choosing a five or three door car

Is more always better? In some cases, yes, but not necessarily if you’re talking specifically about car doors. Let's take a look at the relative merits of three-door versus five-door cars.

Just so we're clear on what we're actually describing: the tailgate is always counted as a door when describing cars, so a three-door car is a hatchback that has two doors at the front, and a five-door is a hatchback that has two front doors and two back doors.


If you're buying new, you may pay more for a five-door car; Ford is advertising a difference of more than £600 between some three-door versions of the new Fiesta and the corresponding five-door. However, the used car market tends to smooth out these differences and anyway, used car prices are so individual, and based on so many variables, that any overall trends in terms of whether a three-door or five-door car is likely to cost you more are fairly meaningless in practice.


Three-door cars do look different from their five-door counterparts, largely because having two rather than four main doors allows the designers more freedom when shaping the side and rear of the car, with sharper back windows helping to create a snappier look overall. Most hot hatches are based on a three-door body shape and some only come as a three-door. Sometimes the three and five-door versions of a car actually have a completely different chassis.

Some more recent models employ concealed door handles on their five-door models for a sleeker overall look, so the styling differences between the two are constantly changing.


The biggest difference between three-door and five-door cars is practicality. Five-door cars are more accessible for rear passengers, particularly for those with limited mobility. Strapping children in or fitting a child seat in the back of a five-door model is simpler too, which is why those with young families tend to prefer them. Finally, a five-door enables better access for the emergency services in the event of an accident.

That said, many motorists that choose three-door vehicles rarely carry passengers in the back seats, so with wider opening front doors these models can be more suitable for front seat passengers and drivers.

It’s usually easier to fold the seats and get a lot of luggage into a five-door car as you can open the rear up, but overall luggage space and rear legroom are generally similar in both three- and five-door models, as both body types will have the same dimensions and wheelbase.

Whether you’re looking for the practicality of a five-door or the style of a three-door, here at Carwise Group we've got a huge range of pre-owned cars for sale at our dealerships in Maidstone and Harlow all with both style and substance. You can see all our stock online, and call us at your nearest dealership to book a test drive.