Audi has started the second quarter with further sales growth, up 6.6% year on year to 133,500 cars. The automaker said there was particular demand for the new A3 family and the Q3, Q5 and Q7 SUVs.

Year to date volume to the end of April was up 6.7% to 503,000. This was the first time Audi passed a half million deliveries in four months.

"Given the extremely difficult market situation in Europe, we see our global sales result of April as positive. Especially the USA and China are currently setting the pace for Audi," said group sales and marketing chief Luca de Meo. "We are further strengthening our position in China with the launch of the locally produced Q3, in a very dynamic segment. Already today, more than every third customer in the Chinese premium market decides [on] an SUV."

The Q3 went into local production a few weeks ago at the Changchun site as Audi's fourth locally produced model alongside the A6 L, A4 L and Q5. The first units of the compact SUV became available in Chinese dealerships in April.

The latest Q5, a model popular in China, went into showrooms last month. Together with the Q7, Audi's SUV sales in China increased 31.3% to 11,784 units in April.

Sales of the locally produced A4 L saw strong growth of 19.5% to 10,426 units.