Three things have come together at the same time to reinforce Audi’s strong growth in the UK, according to director Jeremy Hicks.

“We have exceptionally strong product, a very strong brand image and an excellent dealer network,” he said at the launch of the A5.

Year-on-year sales growth has been 20% and Audi UK has an order bank of 20,000 cars at any one time – double what it used to be, said Hicks.

Orders for the A5 have already reached 2,000 with 500 customers going for the GBP39,825 S5; the 3.0 TDI is on sale at GBP33,430.

Hicks is expecting 3,800 A5 sales in the balance of this year and 8,000 in 2008.

Last year total sales were 86,000 and this year will hit 97,000. He is targeting 100,000 sales in 2008.

“But we’re not pushing growth, we will grow with new segments – the A5 takes us back to the coupe segment after 10 years out of it – so growth will be organic.

“I never want us to become too dependent on one sector of the market. What we need is balanced growth.”

Growth though has come with some pain. “It has put a lot of pressure on the dealer network just to cope with the additional volume and the extra number of customers,” said Hicks.

Audi is now the most attractive franchise for dealers according to the latest NFDA survey, he said. “We have the most satisfied dealers and this year for the first time we’re clearly No. 1.”

The priority for the 119-strong network is to install additional capacity for new and used cars and build-up their after-sales business, said Hicks.

The largest Audi dealership in the world will open in Birmingham later this year. But it will only hold that position for 12 months – an even bigger dealership will open in west London in September 2008.