Where did you guys get $16K from? The GBP 17,605 price in the UK translates into $25,000 at current exchange rates.
Also, you have to understand that the market in Europe and UK is completely different than the US. People there drive much smaller cars and most engines are 2.0 L or smaller.
I was there recently in Europe riding in a Passat Wagon with a 2.0 L TDI. We had five people in the car and the back full of luggage and were regularly doing 160 Kph without a sweat. The driver did several pulls to 180 and 200 when the road opened up and I was blown away by the engine's power.