Originally Posted by tdizzle
I think it's a gamble. BMW in NA is seen as a luxury car (as is MB). Once you start offering sub $30k versions, you dip in the economy car territory and BMW looses the luster of being luxurious. The reason more people buy the 328 is because it's cheaper, but not so cheap as to not feel like a luxury car model.
Delete all the luxury features and you've pretty much lost that crowd and perception. Like someone else mentioned you could go grab a ford/nissan/honda/hyundai load it up with options and see way more bang for your buck (one could already argue that now though). I personally think it's not a great marketing idea for those that purchase the higher end models, they'll lose their luster. Seeing a $25k model out there doesn't exactly make the guy driving the $70k M3 feel like his brand is truly the ultimate driving machine anymore.
I wont even mention the 7 series. I think Toyota, Honda, and Nissan were on to something by creating a completely different make for their luxury brands. Someone feels like they have a completely different experience in a Lexus versus a Toyota and the perception from others is the same.
In the main, I think you are right.
Most Americans see driving as controlling the steering while the car is on cruise control or as sitting in stop-and-go traffic. Moreover, with our absurdly low speed limits, most folks have little opportunity to discover what the value of a BMW, or any other, sport sedan really is. Thus, BMWs, MB, et al
are just luxury cars rather than cars valued by the general public for their engineering.
Any Honda or Toyota or any other car, can drive down the interstate at 70 mph. I don't think the driver would be so confident about going 120 on the straights and 80 or 90 in the curves, however.