British hot hatch fans are now buying more Volkswagen Golf R versions than GTI models – despite there being a £4000 price difference between the two. Golf R sales are so strong, it is actually the second most popular petrol-powered Golf in the UK, trailing only the 1.4 TSI 125 SE Nav.

Around 6-7 percent of total Golf sales now comprise the hot four-wheel-drive R version (priced from £31,865), which has recently been upped from 300 horsepower to 310 hp as part of the Golf ‘Mk7.5’ mid-life facelift. The Golf GTI (priced from £27,865) takes around 5 percent of sales, split evenly between standard and Performance Pack models.

However, the Golf GTD turbodiesel (costing from £27,065) easily outsells them both put together: Volkswagen says up to 15 percent of UK Golf volumes are the hot turbodiesel. It’s a particular favourite of fleets, said a spokesman, because of its tax-efficient nature. For this reason, they added, most Golf GTI sales are to private buyers.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTD
2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Indeed, the single best-selling Volkswagen Golf variant of all in the UK is the GTD 5dr manual – this one model accounts for 7 percent of sales. That’s quite a feat, when you consider the facelifted Golf range will ultimately comprise 113 individual models…

For 2017, Volkswagen is hoping to significantly increase Golf GTE sales, which currently comprise just 3 percent of volumes. The firm sees this as an untapped opportunity, and has thus realigned prices to suit – with the base car now costing, once the OLEV Plug-in Car Grant is subtracted, less than both the Golf GTI and GTD.

Add up all these performance variants and you have a UK hot Golf update of around 30 percent. Given how the UK's third best-selling car in 2016 was the Golf, with almost 73,000 finding homes, British dealers are selling a very strong number of higher-profit models indeed...

Gallery: 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI, GTD, R