The data shows the Volkswagen Golf GTI remained a key performance model for Brits in the first three quarters of the year (DfT data is posted three months after the period ends, hence why we’re not using full-year figures).
We debated about including performance versions of SUVs in the table, but, given the popularity of the bodystyle, it felt wrong to ignore cars like the Mini Cooper Countryman S (fifth most popular) and the Ford Puma ST.
It was also interesting to note that the most popular Mercedes-AMG model after the A35 was the G63, based on the off-road G-Class and costing from £164,065, with 508 sold.
The marketing benefit of high-powered models is seen very clearly in the rise of the trim levels referencing that performance version visually but lacking their power and chassis modifications. The best-selling Ford for the period was the Puma ST-Line, the best-selling Mercedes was the A-Class A250 AMG Line, the best-selling BMW was the 330e M Sport and the top-selling Audi was the Q5 S Line. You get the idea. Brits like to be seen in the sportiest-looking cars, even if the go under the bonnet doesn’t quite match the show.
Normally hot hatchbacks don’t stray too far from the blueprint of the original, but Toyota chucked that wisdom out of the window with the GR Yaris. The Circuit variant (by far the most popular, taking 2705 of 2963 sales) was incredibly Toyota’s ninth best-selling model variant for the period, beating the far more humble Yaris Excel.
The transformation to make this four-wheel-drive homologation special wasn’t cheap, and Toyota has admitted as much, saying that it was built more as a marketing tool than for single unit profitability, but it might have paid off.
The Yaris Design was the top-selling car full stop in the first nine months, with 10,970 registered, while the Yaris overall was UK’s 10th best-seller for the full year, according SMMT data.
Electric cars crept into the performance top 20, with the Tesla Model 3 Performance in sixth and the Porsche Taycan 4S managing 18th.