The Slow Death Of The Three-Door Hatchback Is Happening, And We're Not Happy

While it's not the biggest issue facing drivers like us right now, the decline of the three-door car has ramifications for the young car enthusiasts of the future
The Slow Death Of The Three-Door Hatchback Is Happening, And We're Not Happy

It’s the little things that make the difference in car ownership. Sure, you might own a 10-second Subaru Impreza, but it’s the work you carried out on it yourself that makes it special to you. Little mods, photos you’re particularly proud of or even just small design cues that really appeal to you on some level are all potential building blocks for the bond between you and your car.

That’s why we’re a bit sad to learn that the three-door hatchback is on the endangered species list. A three-door car was always the one that we wanted when we were first setting out into the awesome world of driving. A three-door version of an otherwise ordinary (and therefore affordable) model was the sportier, more purposeful-looking version. It was the flawed but more interesting version that said you wanted style before practicality. It was cooler.

The Slow Death Of The Three-Door Hatchback Is Happening, And We're Not Happy

It was the choice that said: I’m young, I’ve made an illogical decision based on image because I wanted to, and I don’t care what you think. Mates that wanted a ride just had to deal with climbing past the front seats. Plus, we always secretly liked to think that the minor weight saving in three-door cars was basically worth an extra 10bhp…

Sales figures are showing a massive swing away from these less practical machines, though, even among the smallest classes, where paying extra for rear doors used to be seen as a pointless waste of cash. Unless we’re much mistaken, as recently as six or seven years ago the sales mix was still in favour of fewer doors among superminis like the Fiesta.

The Slow Death Of The Three-Door Hatchback Is Happening, And We're Not Happy

You still can pick up new three-door cars, of course, particularly among small cars, but the larger stuff; the kind of thing you might look at as a second or third car after passing your test, is dying out. Audi says that the next A3 is ‘likely’ to drop the three-door model, while Ford, Honda and Opel/Vauxhall have already done so with the Focus, Civic and Astra. Going down a class, the Seat Ibiza and Renault Clio both come with five doors only, and that number could easily rise in the coming years.

Kia has more-or-less announced that the next Pro_cee’d will be a longer, five-door shooting brake design. We won’t complain if the finished product looks anything like the deeply pretty concept we looked at yesterday, but we do quite like the current Pro_Cee’d GT and we prefer it to the five-door Cee’d GT. We’d prefer to own the three-door.

The Slow Death Of The Three-Door Hatchback Is Happening, And We're Not Happy

We can’t fight commercial realities. If every car enthusiast in the world went and bought a brand new three-door hatchback every two years then things would be different, but as a rule of thumb that’s not how we work. The world simply doesn’t buy enough new ones any more, and ultimately, as they get dropped the second-hand market will eventually dry up. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s one more piece chipped out of that shrinking sphere of little things we love about cars.




09/10/2017 - 08:21 |
0 | 0

Buy an a5

09/10/2017 - 08:22 |
0 | 0

In reply to by 5:19.55

Guess what? That’s got a 4-door version as well :/.

09/10/2017 - 08:31 |
2 | 0

If a three-door Fiesta gets me a kiss from a girl like the one in the pic, yes, I’m sad too, very sad, oh so sad, incredibly sad, I’m so sad that I’m at a loss for words.

09/10/2017 - 08:23 |
166 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I only just noticed there was a girl in the picture.

09/10/2017 - 08:28 |
70 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I’m sure she like 5-doors as well. It’s OK :D.

09/10/2017 - 08:37 |
10 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

OMG i didn’t even notice that man and woman kissing xd

09/10/2017 - 11:59 |
22 | 0
🎺🎺thank mr skeltal

Honestly, I like that the trend is going towards 5 door hatchbacks. I liked 3 doors all the time until I’ve sat in the back of one. The back of a 3 door Audi A3 has less room than that of a 5 door Fiesta.

09/10/2017 - 08:24 |
14 | 6

Sit in a 3 door Punto

09/10/2017 - 08:31 |
10 | 4

As someone who owned a 3-door VW Golf, I can say that 3-door hatchbacks feel so much more special than their 5-door siblings. Yes, you sacrifice rear seat comfort, but you also do so when buying a 2-door coupe - that’s not a reason to hate coupes though, is it?

Firstly, they mostly look much better. Secondly, there is this indescribable feeling of cosiness once you’re sat inside. Thirdly, for young people, it’s kind of a symbol of freedom - you don’t yet have a family and so you don’t really need the rear seats.

09/10/2017 - 16:56 |
22 | 0

I can understand why people want 5-door versions of cars like the Golf and Focus. But now we seem to have 5-door versions of the Up. Those just look ugly and silly.

09/10/2017 - 08:28 |
46 | 2


09/10/2017 - 08:32 |
14 | 4

Well I can imagine the target market consists mostly of pensioners and parents buying first cars for their kids so it makes sense.

09/10/2017 - 09:07 |
4 | 0

I’m trying to find a nice three door 1 series atm. The death of three door hatchbacks is fast, not slow.

09/10/2017 - 08:39 |
0 | 0

In reply to by Fnurpl

To be honest, I think the 1-series looks much better as a 5-door.

09/10/2017 - 08:51 |
0 | 0
Foolishness (TOYOTA 86 FANBOY)

4 door mini anyone?

09/10/2017 - 08:52 |
0 | 0

Minis only look good in 3 doors.

09/10/2017 - 09:06 |
6 | 0
Dave 12

Well tgere’s always the clio. So long as the cup exists I think there will always be an awesome 3 door on the market for people who care. Personally I’m probably adding to the problem because with kids and elderly parents 3 doors are just a massive faf.

09/10/2017 - 09:09 |
0 | 0

To be honest, I’m not sad at all about this. If you want to waste so much practicality just because it looks a tiny bit better, then that’s your own fault. I also can’t see why suddenly a car enthusiasts has to buy a three-door hatchback. Is it because a car must be objectively worse to be loveable or what?

09/10/2017 - 09:16 |
10 | 2
Tomislav Celić

In reply to by Jakob

Generally car guys prefer form>function. You are forgetting that there are people who hate practicality. And 3 door is much better for long term cars (20+ years) since rear door can be troublesome. Also just becouse Wagons are more practical than sedans does that mean we should buy wagons? But in the end with MODERN hatchbacks I agree, they look better in 4 doors.

09/10/2017 - 10:37 |
4 | 2

In reply to by Jakob

3-door hatchbacks are cheaper than the 5-door equivalent is the main advantage. They also have slightly better structural rigidity and slightly less weight, although most people won’t care

09/10/2017 - 12:05 |
0 | 0

Does nobody in the general public care for torsional body stiffness anymore!?

09/10/2017 - 09:21 |
0 | 0


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