Mainstream carmakers may be worried about a downturn in the market but the ultra-luxury marques have nothing to fear if current sales levels are anything to go by. Bentley, for example, has posted record sales of 10,014 vehicles for 2007 and this in turn has led to new operating profit record of €155m based on sales of €1.37 billion.

Strong growth in most of Bentley’s major markets as well as a staggering 93% increase in sales in China were the key reasons for the positive results. Even in North America, where the auto industry has slowed, Bentley’s sales were up 4%. Though the bulk of sales were for the entry-level Continental GT, the results were also driven by growth across both the Arnage and new Azure convertible models.

When you consider that just five years ago Bentley was only selling 1,000 vehicles per year, the luxury marque is now on the verge of losing significant brand-cachet. Several reviews have derided the Continental GT for being little more than a VW Phaeton with a bigger engine, while many critics have applauded BMW’s hands-off approach with Rolls Royce.