A rejuvenated model range led by its new Golf VI hatchback helped Volkswagen outperform its competitors in May and grab more share of the world's car market, Europe's largest automaker said on Friday. Led by massive gains in Germany and China -- its two biggest markets -- group vehicle sales rose over last year's comparable month for the first time in 2009, gaining 1.5 percent to 556,700 units.

The group's core VW brand contributed substantially with a 10 percent gain in deliveries in May thanks to strong demand for its popular Tiguan SUV and Golf hatchback, as well as models sold in China like the Lavida and Passat Lingyu.

We have to some extent been able to uncouple ourselves from an overall market that remains very weak thanks to our strong, young product range plus the additional sales advantage that comes from the comparatively high residual value of our used cars, Volkswagen sales chief Detlef Wittig said in a statement.

However, with the exception of China, global passenger car markets are not showing any signs of recovery. It is not clear whether the markets have hit rock bottom yet.

Government scrapping incentives in Germany have artificially boosted the market for low-priced models, helping VW's group deliveries in Germany rise 36 percent.

The group's Czech brand Skoda saw sales drop 7.3 percent in May due to an overall slump in key Central and Eastern European markets, while Seat posted a 10 percent decline in volume last month as the marque's home market of Spain continued to suffer.

While the global market fell by about 20 percent in the first five months, Volkswagen group sales fell by just 7.0 percent to 2.49 million vehicles.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner)