Volkswagen’s luxury unit Audi continued its quest to become the world’s top premium brand with March sales up 14.1% to a record 143,500 vehicles.

This maintained Audi's lead over Mercedes-Benz. First-quarter deliveries gained 10.8% to 346,100 units compared with 341,000 at Mercedes-Benz. BMW sold over 400,000 vehicles between January and March.

Audi overtook Mercedes as the second largest premium brand by vehicle sales last year and has surpassed BMW in terms of profitability thanks to the economies of scale it enjoys with parent VW.

Sales in China, where Audi leads the luxury market, increased 37% in March to 31,505 with increased demand for extended versions of the A4 and A6 and the Q5 SUV.