FRANKFURT -- Audi said its global sales increased by 12.9 percent to 119,600 vehicles last month compared with a year ago, making the month the automaker's best July to date.
Volkswagen Group's luxury unit said demand for its vehicles rose in all its major markets, including Europe where the overall auto market is going through a slump due to the region's economic woes.
The monthly total put Audi ahead of rival BMW, which sold 113,253 BMW brand vehicles last month, up 4.2 percent. Sales of Mercedes-Benz brand cars fell 3.1 percent to 97,327.
Audi expects new launches such as the redesigned A3 premium compact car will help boost sales in the second half.
"Following this successful start to the second half, we are expecting the new A3 to give us an extra lift over the coming months,'' Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said in a statement on Thursday.
Audi's sales in China, the brand's biggest single market, rose 18.4 percent last month to 32,877 giving a combined seven-month sales tally of 226,748, a rise of 34.6 percent.
Audi said sales of the locally-built Q5 midsize SUV rose 80 percent in China to 50,170 between in the first seven months. The automaker launched the Q3 small SUV in the country last month to help boost sales in the important SUV segment.
Overall sales in Audi's European market rose 5.5 percent to 60,800 last month, defying a downturn in consumer confidence caused by the eurozone crisis. In the first seven months, sales rose 3.1 percent to 454,200.
Sales in Audi's biggest European market, Germany, were up 10.7 percent in July to 23,712 and by 7.8 percent to 157,885 over seven months.
In the UK, the automaker grew sales 8.8 percent to 8,872. Since the beginning of the year, sales in Audi's fourth-biggest market have risen 5 percent to 75,060.
In Italy, Audi deliveries dropped 10.7 percent to 4,170 last month, while in Spain volume fell 13.5 percent to 3,106. In France, sales fell 1.6 percent to 5,207.
Audi sales in Russia for the month increased 35.6 percent to 2,757.
In the United States, the brand's third-biggest market, volume jumped 28 percent to 11,707. Seven-month sales rose 18.2 percent to 76,865.
In the first seven months, global demand for Audi vehicles rose 12.4 percent to 852,900, just behind the BMW brand with 860,327, a rise of 7.7 percent. Mercedes' brand trailed both its rivals with sales of 750,251, a rise of 5.5 percent.
Last year, BMW brand sold 1.38 million cars and SUVs. Audi sold 1.3 million units, while Mercedes brand sales were 1.26 million.