Frankly, its never been all that difficult to turn a run of the mill BMW into a reasonable facsimile of an M model like an M3, M5 or M6. All you had to do was order the appropriate body kit from your friendly neighborhood BMW dealer and slap it on your car. In spite of this, Europeans have generally had an even easier time thanks to M-Sport packages on virtually every model in the lineup including those that didn't offer M equivalents. The M-Sport packages generally consist of assorted aero bits, wheels, upgraded seats and interior bits emblazoned with the "M" badge.
BMW is reportedly getting ready to offer M-Sport packages in the U.S. for the first time beginning in early 2009. The 1 and 5 series will apparently be the first models to get blessed. Given the slow down in sales and BMW's recent profit warnings, this should come as no surprise as the packages will surely be priced with a generous profit margin built in. Thanks to Gabe and Michael for the tips!