However, cars aren't bought this way! They are bought because they feel right, look a certain way, have the desireable "credentials" (brand name, power figures, corner speeds, 0-60, 1/4 mile, top speeds, number of cylinders, etc...), are the right color, support an image, etc.... It is NOT about any real world absolutes, value equasions, scientifically derived qualities, or any other such truly quantifiable arguments. It's about making personal choices first. So, in this case, it is ALL about the car.
Then you have intended use, which is as diverse as the buyers themselves. Some dig straight-line gitty-up, others love the twisties in the hills or a road course, others an auto-x, still others just wanna cruise in style. The reasons for buying one car over another are as diverse as the people who buy them.
So, is the M coupe better than the Z3 coupe? Depends on what you want out of the car. For me? I wanted more power, the "M" mark and all the stuff that comes with it (image, suspension, brakes, engine, wheels, seats, Imola Red paint, etc.). so, in my case, after a test drive, the Z3 wasn't even a consideration. For others, it was the only choice. Who's more right? ME for MY sake, and I will not defend that with anyone. They for their sake, and I do not ask for any defence on their part.
Am I a better driver than most? Nope. Am I a better drive because of the M coupe? Nope. Might be worse, as the car is able to get me into trouble other cars are not capable of. I am improving dramatically, however. Am I taking full advantage of the M coupe's capabilities? Who cares, I love it, it does what I want of it. If I decide to drive it at legal speeds and take corners at 10mph, that's my choice!
So, is it the driver, or the car?
If you are on a racing circuit, it is both. To win, you must have the best car you can in the class you are entered in, and be the best driver of that class of car. Anything less and you loose. No matter what class of racing, poor cars loose and poor drivers loose. A poor car will hold down a great driver, even if that driver makes that poor car perform to it's maximum potential, as their will always be the next great driver, in a better car to stomp you! A subtle difference between two different cars in the same class may make one driver slightly better than the other, if those differences favor that drivers style. The opposite effect can also be a factor.
On the street? Jeez, so few cars ever are driven at the limit on the street, that it really is ALL about the driver. I mean, at legal speeds, following traffic laws, a Honda Accord, or Toyota Camry, or Acura Legand is more capable than the majority of drivers on the roads today. Anything able to do more is just overKILL. So, it is all about how good a driver you are, as the game is about survival and evasion of potential risk, and not about performance in any real sense. Blasting an occasional on-ramp is not performance driving, it's just an on-ramp!
But who wants to sacrifice the visceral thrill of owning a great car, just because you never intend to drive it at the limit? If the qualification for owning a car were that you had to need it to perform at the level of some of the Super Cars today, they would all be gone inside a single model year! Who needs a Porsche 911 turbo Carrera, with a 70mph speed limit and State Highway Patrolman, not to mention regualr traffic!
On the street, NONE of us NEED a car to do 0-60 in under 6 seconds. NONE of us NEED a car that can do over 130mph. etc...
So, is it the car, or the driver? It's both always. It's about liking what YOU paid for, with YOUR money, and that YOU are seen in, and that YOU get the use from. If that means you are an 80 year old woman, who has always wanted a Bug-eyed Sprite, just because, then more power to you! If that means that cars are so important to you that you take every driver school, and auto-x every weekend, and have a personal formula for how, using a specific car, rigged up a certain way, you can shave off a few mili-seconds to win that title! Then that's just great, have a party.
But, if you feel that you are such a great driver, and have it all figured out, and how all the rest of us poor saps just don't GET IT! Or feel like you have made the only truly informed and well thought-out auto purchase decision, and the rest of us need to get real....Well, you need to get a life and bugger off, because life just doesn't work that way!
So, in this way, it does get down to the driver, YOU, making your own decisions and enjoying them, and not being harassed because of those choices.... sound a little familiar to anyone? Like maybe off a 200+ year old scrap of paper somewhere? It also means you respect others rights to do the same, even if it's different from your own!
Like I said, interesting dilema, or maybe not at all!