Premium carmakers are enjoying a surge in sales. Not only are Mercedes, Audi and BMW stealing European market share from mainstream manufactures, but some models are actually outselling their equivalent volume player.
In Ireland, despite a somewhat gloomy start to the year, the German triumvirate captured a market share of more than 10pc in the first two months alone, with more than 6,000 units sold across the three brands.
With the recent launch of three new models, Audi's sales growth is set to further accelerate.
In time for spring, the new A5 Cabriolet has arrived in Audi dealerships. Looks matter when it comes to convertibles and, with its muscular, sporty silhouette and 19-inch wheels, the A5 Cabriolet is a real head-turner. Every Cabriolet comes with xenon headlights, Audi drive select and partial leather seats.
Intuitive, ergonomic operation comes courtesy of the Audi MMI radio with seven-inch colour display, seat-belt microphones and a one-touch-opening function for the soft top.
Thanks to a mix of materials and a lightweight design compared with the last version, Audi engineers have increased the car's torsional rigidity by 40pc and reduced its weight by up to 40kg, making the Cabriolet even more agile.
The Cabriolet has all the most up-to-date safety equipment to keep you stuck to the road, and, in the event of an accident, head and torso airbags and automatically extending aluminium profiles ensure the safety of the driver and passengers.
Three engines are offered - a 2.0 TFSI with 252 Hp, a 2.0 TDI with 190 Hp and a 3.0 TDI with 218 Hp - each of which promises as much as 22pc less fuel consumption than before, while all deliver the power and smoothness for that breeze-through-your-hair open-top cruising.
The soft-top roof fully opens in 15 seconds, and, more importantly, should it start to rain, the lid will be back on in 18 seconds, even while driving up to 50kmh.
And if you are planning a weekend away, you can get a couple of suitcases in the boot, as the Cabriolet can hold more than 380 litres.
Prices start from €61,580 OTR for the 2.0TDI 190 Hp S Tronic SE, rising to €65,390 OTR for the range-topping 2.0TFSI 252 Hp Quattro S Tronic S Line.
Also new to the Audi range is its A4-based coupe the A5. The coupe may not look different but it is lighter, better equipped and more spacious than the model it replaces. The A5 Coupe is now available for the first time with the optional Audi virtual cockpit - a 12.3-inch TFT display with a resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels.
On the road, it promises to be much more nimble and direct, thanks to the newly developed steering, combined with a stiffer body that weighs up to 85kg less than the old model. Five engines power the range - three TFSI units and two TDI.
Pricing for the A5 Coupe petrol engine starts at €47,510 OTR for the 2.0 TFSI 190 Hp SE. Diesel engine models start at €50,100 for the A5 2.0 TDI 190 Hp SE. A range-topping 2.0 TFSI 252 Hp and 3.0 TDI 218 Hp are also available.
The slightly more practical A5 Sportback is also available with five engine variants - three TFSI and two TDI. Pricing for the 2.0 TDI 150 Hp SE diesel engine models starts at €47,350 while petrol engine models start at €48,010 for the 2.0 TFSI 190 Hp SE. Thanks to the weight reduction of 15kg, fuel economy is improved over the previous models, and the lighter body makes it more agile.
Inside, Audi has focused on useful technology and understated design but not at the expense of function, and the interior boasts 480 litres of luggage capacity.
The SE trim features MMI Navigation and driver assistance systems, such as the Audi pre sense city, as standard, while the S Line trim includes LED headlights and a sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
On the road, the A5 Sportback delivers plenty of sporty performance and sleek style while negotiating twists and bends with reassuring ease.
Aimed squarely at the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi's middle child, the Q5, has been completely redesigned. Upon first glance, apart from the new single-frame grille, the second-generation Q5 remains unchanged for the most part, but it's now longer, wider and taller than the current model and, with a longer wheelbase, there is more interior space.
Inside, the contemporary design is clean and uncluttered and all the controls are easy to find and to use.
Behind the steering wheel, the optional 12.3-inch virtual cockpit moves from various display options and projects information directly in front of the driver with richly detailed graphics. There's also loads of headroom and legroom for front and rear passengers and more than enough space for five people and their luggage, too, as the compact SUV boasts a luggage capacity of 550 litres.
Standard features on the Q5 include xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, the Audi MMI Navigation with seven-inch MMI colour display, Bluetooth and USB charging function, Audi drive select dynamic handling system, twin leather, and front and rear parking sensors. The LED interior lighting pack is now also standard.
The Audi Q5 showed off its strengths in the latest Euro NCAP tests, during which it scored points for occupant protection, child safety and pedestrian protection, making it among the safest crossovers on sale today. Also contributing to the SUV's rating were the driver assistance systems that are standard equipment.
Prices for the Q5 start at €48,350 for the 2.0 TDI 150 bhp SE, rising to €54,850 for the 2.0 TDI 190 bhp S Tronic Quattro. On the road, it's not a car that will thrill you with its dynamics but it's solid and refined and brings a dash of panache to a crowded market.
Audi will add a petrol/electric plug-in hybrid in 2018, while an SQ5 performance version using a 3.0-litre diesel engine is also planned.