Originally posted by metoo
I think most of the M3 and M roadster guys are enthusiasts. There are a lot of BMW auto-xers. Now on the other side, there are BMW owners where I work that couldn't care less about performance.
Here's how I have come to see it. This is just a generalization based one personal observation.
M3's, M coupe, M roadsters: owners like to drive with authority
M5: owners like power and luxury. Some off these guys considered the M3 (2000+)
540: owners want nice luxury with good power and something bigger than an M3.
528: Just wanted the luxury or just wanted to be able to say "I have a 5 series."
330ci: didn't know there was an M3 for practically the same price.
330xi: Simply prefered it over the S4
330i: felt it was much better than the 325i, and likes the overall feel.
325i and lower: just had to have a BMW reguardless of how low it's power is, or how much luxury it lacks. These guys really like their cars and most wouldn't buy anything else for the price. Why? Other than the label, I just don't know.
Z3: owners like a fun car and wind in there hair.
on the point of the M3, 330s and 325s - person had a budget they did not want to exceed. they went out and evaluated all the cars in their budget range that fit a set of criteria that was important to them. they found that the BMW was the best fit within that budget.
for example, I have a budget in the low 30s. my requirements are space (i'm 6'3" 240lbs), ability to install a child seat, safety, long term reliability. Currently my top 4 list is STi, 325xi, WRX, Cooper S. Still on my list to drive is the 3.2TL type S, and the G35 (4 door with the MT). I don't race, don't plan to race, and will not be modding the car. This is for my daily driver.
Sure for low 30s I'd love to have an STi, but if I can't then I'd be willing to exchange some performance for luxury in the 325xi. If I don't feel the luxury is enough of an offset for the lost performance I'll look at the WRX. If I don't feel that the WRX then has the right mix then I'll look at the others. the Cooper S is on my list because believe it or not it's incredibly fun to drive.
Now - you could say that the better offset of performance for luxury would target me for the 330xi or M3, but those fall outside my budget of low 30s (esp. when you tack on the options I would want if I go that route). I don't think it has anything to do with the label (except that label tends to also go along with quality), but finding the best fit for the person.