While Queen Elizabeth, to the best of our knowledge, is firmly ensconced in Buckingham Palace, Bentley is celebrating her 60th year on the throne with a big party in China, introducing a special Diamond Jubilee Edition Mulsanne at the Beijing Motor Show.
The maker is also using the biennial gathering to pull the wraps off the new Continental GT V8, the latest model to offer customers a more fuel-efficient alternative to the classic Bentley 12-banger.
Designed by the British maker’s in-house custom operation, Mulliner, a total of 60 Diamond Jubilee Mulsannes will be sold worldwide – each designed to signify a specific year in her reign.
Each features details which “include bespoke embroidery to all four headrests using gold stitching, veneered picnic tables in the rear cabin decorated with a gold overlay depicting a royal carriage used for great occasions of state as well as luxurious, hide cushions featuring the same motif,” says Bentley, adding that, “Two beautiful, highly-polished stainless steel treadplate plaques featuring the famous ‘Bentley Mulliner, England’ script and ‘Diamond Jubilee Edition’ have also been commissioned for these Mulsanne models.”
But, um, shouldn’t the Diamond Jubilee models be premiering in, well, London? Actually, the news is being highlighted both at Bentley headquarters in Crewe and at the maker’s newest dealer, in Beijing. The luxury segment in the Middle Kingdom is growing faster than the country’s overall automotive market, experts note. And it is now Bentley’s single-largest market, last year surpassing the U.S., with a total of 1,664 vehicles sold there. Demand surged another 85% during the first quarter of 2012, year-over-year.
“The respect and genuine interest shown towards so many aspects of British life, and most especially The Royal Family, has made China a unique experience for our marque as well as many other UK businesses,” explains Richard Charlesworth, Bentley’s Director of Royal and VIP Relation.
Along with the launch of the Diamond Jubilee Mulsanne, Bentley is giving potential customers a first look at the Continental GT V8, the latest model to share the maker’s new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. While still turning out 500 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque, Bentley claims the Continental GT V-8 delivers a 40% improvement in fuel economy over the 6.0-liter W-12 version of the Continental coupe.
The launch follows the introduction, earlier this year, of the Continental GTC V8 convertible. Both models feature black gloss matrix grilles with chrome frames and center bars, a red enamel Bentley ‘B’ badge, and a black matrix three-segment lower front bumper with body-colored strakes.
The V-8 models also get unique chromed ‘figure eight’ exhaust tailpipes, a dark lower valance and red enamel ‘B’ trunklid badges. As with the W-12 Continental models, the new V-8s deliver standard all-wheel-drive, with a torque split normally biased 60% towards the rear wheels.