General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sales in China rose sharply in March as large numbers of upper middle-class buyers bought the six-speed Buick Excelle, a luxury sedan manufactured domestically that, at over $20,000, is an icon of achievement.

GM said Thursday it sold 257,944 units last month, an 11 percent jump from previous year figures. Unit sales for the three months ending March were up  8.7 percent to 745,152 units, the company also noted.

Such growth is bucking the trend seen by other car manufacturers. After two year of double-figure sales growth,  carmarkers in China only sold 2.5 percent more units, 18.51 million motor vehicles, in 2011. Other foreign players have seen that level of growth persist into 2012, with Volkswagen AG, one of GM's biggest competitor in China, seeing sales grow just 2.1 percent for the three month period.

The Chinese industry group that compiles benchmark data has not yet released overall sales numbers for the month.

Our new models such as the Chevrolet Malibu have gotten off to a solid start, complementing the ongoing strength of established products such as the Buick Excelle, Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac SRX, Kevin Wale, president and managing director of the GM China Group, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News.