RL - I think it can be summed upped with this...Gen Y.
This is the next big market for car makers and they want to get this demographic into the fold as soon and easily as possible. This group likes nice things, but seem to be more "cost conscious" due to coming of age/money in less stable economic times. All car makers are targeting this market, including the lux's of MB, Audi, Acura, Caddy and now BMW. Nothing yet from Lexus, Infiniti, Volvo, but I'm sure they are eyeing it up seriously. There are about 76million people in this "Millennial Generation"...that's huge and they'll need something to make up for the Boomer's...uh, moving on, let's say.
That said, BMW has done the easiest (and smartest) thing to do to jump into this fold immediately, especially after the CLA, upcoming A3 4 door (or whatever), ILX, ATS, etc. They've immediately "created" an entry level car, priced competitively, with NO wait time, minimal to no re-engineering costs, and...a 4 door. Something lacking in the 1 Series line. This makes complete sense.
Also, let's say you are right on your approximate "only" $50 difference via lease, so why bother. Either way, BMW can make out with a sale. You can have buyer's go either direction and it doesn't hurt BMW or the buyer. You could have one buyer come in and balk at paying another $50 for various reasons or doesn't fit their budget, so they get the 320. Likewise, you could have the next buyer come in and go, wow, only another $50 bucks and I can just go with the 328. With that thinking, I bet they also add a few more options and maybe push the difference up a tad more. Either way, BMW wins and it gets entry level lux buyers in the showroom. Those that thought they maybe could never afford a BMW.
Bottom line, I think this is a smart move by BMW. When my dealership gets a 320 sport, I'll be checking it out in a heartbeat...and I have a 335. If BMW can bring 80-85% of what I already have in a less expensive, more fun package, I'm game. I don't need leather or all the bells and whistles, just a fun driving experience and the 320 sport could do just that...with a $500 "chip", of course. Ha.
2011 335i M-Sport, BMW Performance Powerkit Version 1, BMW Performance Exhaust, 35% F1 Pinnacle Tint
Last edited by chrisk03; 01-22-2013 at 08:26 PM.