Best cars with sliding doors
If ease of access is a priority, cars with sliding doors offer an enormous advantage. We list our top 10
Do you have a young family or regularly carry passengers who require easy access to the front and rear seats? If so, you may be familiar with the struggle of squeezing through a small gap created by a car door that can’t be fully opened, while desperately trying to avoid knocking it into a closely parked car. Imagine if you could simply slide the doors open instead...
There aren’t that many cars out there with sliding doors but the dozen or so available to retail buyers in the UK offer a reasonably broad selection to choose from. Parking in tight spaces or along busy narrow roads will never cause anxiety again.
Choosing a car with sliding rear doors rather than conventional ones gives you a number of advantages. If you want a seven-seater, for example, having wide-opening sliding doors makes access to the back row of seats far easier than it tends to be in a car with normal doors.
Even if you want to stick with five seats rather than opt for a seven-seater, sliding rear doors make getting into the back seats simple. Parents with small children are able to easily lean in to strap them in or unbuckle them, unencumbered by door pillars or protruding windows.
You’re at a huge advantage in tight car parks and on busy city streets, as sliding doors hardly protrude from the body of the car when they open, effectively removing the chance of denting another car or scratching your own car’s paintwork.
Many cars with sliding doors are based on vans; these are often referred to as MPVs. While that doesn’t mean they’re bad to drive – modern vans are far plusher and more car-like than they once were – it does mean that if you’re making the switch from a family hatchback or people carrier, you may find interior noise is louder than usual and notice bumps in poor roads. If you’re stepping up from a family hatch, it’s also worth noting they’ll feel a lot bigger from behind the wheel.
Before heading to a dealership, it’s worth noting two important points about sliding rear doors. Firstly, they’re more expensive to manufacture than normal doors and naturally their cost is factored into the price of the car. Secondly, they’re usually heavier and if you choose one of the larger cars on this list, you may find the doors hard to slide, particularly if you’ve parked on a hill. They can also require a fair pull and shove to get open and are noisier to open and close than hinged doors. If, however, the car you’re after has a power-opening option, this solves the issues surrounding weight – at a price.
Read on for our list of the best cars with sliding doors.
The SEAT Alhambra may look slightly boxy, but its car-based origins endow it with an engaging driving experience and it comes with seven seats as standard. While SEAT offers the Alhambra with an entry-level 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, most buyers go for the 2.0-litre diesel, which is available with either 148 or 181bhp. This last engine is expensive to buy, but if you pair it with FR Line trim, SEAT will throw in a limited-slip differential – a mechanical device that improves grip and power delivery when cornering and is usually the preserve of sports cars.
That will appeal to keen drivers, but those after an easy life will prefer SE Lux trim, which is the point the rear doors get a power-sliding function – available (together with a power-operated boot door) as an option for just over £1,000. The mechanically similar Volkswagen Sharan is just as practical as the Alhambra, but it’s also slightly more expensive.
The Volkswagen Sharan is mechanically identical to the SEAT Alhambra above, comes with the same seven-seat capability and is offered with the same VW Group engines. Despite this common heritage, you need £2,000 more for a Sharan compared to an Alhambra, which is why the Volkswagen features lower on our list than the SEAT. If you’re drawn enough to the VW badge to justify the extra cash, you’ll find the Sharan just as spacious, comfortable and engaging as the SEAT.
The Sharan’s trim levels start at S, rising through SE, SE Nav and on to the top-spec SEL. None is poorly equipped, but SE offers a reasonable blend of equipment and value. With all seven seats in place, boot space is decent at 375 litres, but you’ll need to stack your bags vertically to make the most of that capacity. Still, travelling six-up will give you a huge amount of storage, while folding both the rear seats reveals one of the largest boots around. Electric sliding doors are an option, even on top-spec SEL cars.
The Volkswagen Caravelle is big, well built and expensive. The cheapest model costs around £40,000, while the most expensive will set you back more than a Porsche 718 Cayman. What do you get for your money? Well, a huge, plush and capable van-based MPV that hides its roots well and can ferry seven people in as much comfort as it’s possible to attain in this type of car.
While the driver faces a well-equipped dashboard, the Caravelle is best sampled in the rear. Here, you’ll find the second-row seats can face forwards, naturally, but they can also be turned to face the third row for meetings on the go. For buyers after more space, there’s a long-wheelbase version, while those after extra grip can choose a four-wheel-drive Caravelle. VW offers two 2.0-litre diesel engines, one with 148bhp and one with 201bhp – although to get the latter you need to spend a lot of money.
The Citroen SpaceTourer is a large MPV based on the underpinnings of the Dispatch van, but with a reasonably luxurious interior given its commercial beginnings. It doesn’t look too bad from the outside, either, with the same wide two-bar grille as other hatchbacks and SUVs in the range and a choice of fetching paint colours. Three lengths of SpaceTourer are available, with XS the shortest, M at around five metres in length and XL allowing up to nine people to get comfortable.
An overhead unit provides rear passengers with airline-style air-conditioning and lighting, while sunblinds, tray tables and power sockets are also provided, but it can get a bit noisy on the move. Sitting in the middle of the range, the BlueHDi 115 is the best all-round engine, with a six-speed manual gearbox and smooth power delivery. The suspension copes well with bumps, too.
The Citroen SpaceTourer, Toyota Verso and Peugeot Traveller have been built as part of a joint effort, so you’re sure to notice some similarities. For a start, Toyota offers Compact, Medium and Long versions, depending how many passengers you want to carry, and how much space you have to park. Like the Citroen, the interior isn’t bad for a vehicle originally designed for ferrying cargo, with Shuttle, Family and VIP trims offering progressively more kit and clearly aimed at the private-hire industry.
Even the Shuttle has eight or nine seats, automatic wipers, air-conditioning, DAB radio and Bluetooth, covering all the essentials. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating provides great peace of mind, too, especially with so many people on board. Meanwhile, engines include a 1.6-litre diesel with 114bhp or a 2.0-litre with 148 or 174bhp, the latter of which is unnecessary unless you plan on towing a heavy trailer along with your passengers.
Of the SpaceTourer, Verso and Traveller trio, the Peugeot arguably has the most conservative styling, with a simple grille flanked by swept-back headlights. Some neat alloy wheels and stylish colours ensure you won’t be mistaken for a delivery driver, though, as does plenty of tinted privacy glass. Otherwise, there’s the same choice of three body lengths, providing enough space for just about any family.
Peugeot has decided to push the Traveller slightly upmarket, with no cut-price version on offer and every trim getting an impressive roster of equipment like climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth and a seven-inch infotainment display. The Allure trim is even more luxurious, thanks to leather seats, a panoramic sunroof and even a heads-up display.
The Tourneo Connect is a fair bit cheaper than rivals and if you can get past the van-like looks, it’s a hugely practical and capable car. With Ford Focus underpinnings, the Tourneo is another car-like MPV on the road, even if the tall interior and proportions mean it’s a little on the noisy side at speed. That caveat aside, there’s little not to like. The unashamed focus on practicality means adults can practically stand up in the high Tourneo Connect, while the seven-seat option adds further appeal – although the rearmost seats are a little on the small side and tricky to fold up and down.
Ford offers a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with the Tourneo Connect, but most buyers choose the 1.5-litre diesel, which is available with 99 or 128bhp. Like the B-MAX, Ford has recently removed entry-level Tourneo Connects from the range, leaving buyers with just Zetec and Titanium to choose from.
If you want to spend even more money on a car with sliding doors, turn to the Mercedes V-Class. With a starting price of just under £50,000, this car is for people who are serious about their sliding doors. Available in standard, long and extra-long wheelbases, the V-Class can seat up to eight people in leather-lined luxury, while the driver enjoys a dashboard and equipment that’s familiar from the rest of Mercedes’ range. The V-Class’ versatile seating system means almost any configuration is possible and extras like central foldaway tables effectively turn it into a mobile office.
Mercedes offers the V-Class with a 2.1-litre diesel engine, available in two power outputs. We advise you to choose the more potent 188bhp version, which propels the V-Class from 0-62mph in a reasonably rapid 9.1 seconds. Equipment is generous: the ‘entry-level’ Sport includes leather, sat nav, power-opening doors and a reversing camera; AMG Line adds a bodykit, larger alloy wheels and carbon-fibre trim details, but at over £2,000 it seems a slightly unnecessary expense.
The Citroen Berlingo has always been an appealing choice for families seeking affordability and maximum practicality. It’s generally been an option with few frills, but the latest version has moved the game on significantly. It’s still based on a van, but Citroen stylists have masked its undignified background well. The nose features a distinctive chevron grille with swishy LED running lamps on either side above sunken headlamps, while Citroen Cactus-style ‘airbumps’ adorn its flanks. Twin roof rails look the part, too. There are two sizes of Berlingo, both available with five or seven seats, and of course access is exceptional thanks to the sliding doors.
The standard M model will be enough for most with its 775-litre boot, but if you’re a glutton for luggage space the long-wheelbase Berlingo XL gives you 1,050 litres. Inside, apart from the space around you on all sides, there’s very little to suggest you’re driving what used to be a van. Good-quality trim and an impressive infotainment system means it actually feels rather plush.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s a bit unfair to award the Peugeot Rifter’s sister car a higher placing simply based on its more glamorous nose – but the Carbuyer consensus is that the Rifter looks a little more mundane than the Citroen Berlingo. The Rifter also features Peugeot’s i-Cockpit instrumentation that needs to be viewed over the steering wheel, and that can be a tad divisive. Otherwise, the Rifter offers all the many advantages of its PSA Group stablemate, including the same two wheelbase lengths, plus five and seven-seater options.
Both models also share a range of efficient engines, including our favourite 1.2-litre PureTech 110, which returns around 50mpg with just 121g/km of CO2. If you intend to rack up lots of miles, the BlueHDi 75 will eke almost 70 out of every gallon of diesel. All variants offer a supple ride and decent refinement that belie their commercial-vehicle origins.