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Tony O'Kane | Feb 6, 2009

Thanks to a smokin' hot lineup of cars and soaring sales of its M Sports packages, BMW's hardcore M division notched up a huge 50 percent increase in sales during 2008.

24,186 M cars were delivered last year with nearly 18,000 of those being BMW M3s, vindicating the company's decision to replace their much loved inline-six with a bent-eight in the E92 M3. The M3 coupe was the most popular single model with 10,571 cars sold, while the M3 Convertible tallied 4169 sales.

BMW M3 E92

The M3 Sedan was next in line with 3253 examples of the hi-po four-door finding owners, while the M5 and M6 scored 2465 and 2260 sales respectively.

While nowhere near as popular as their bigger and badder siblings, 1438 Z4 M Roadsters and Coupes (below) were shuffled off dealership floors during 2008 - their last year of production.

BMW Z4 M Coupe

Sales of M Sport packages for lesser BMW models were also on the rise, with over 58,000 3-Series buyers alone opting for the styling and handling enhancements.

As the manufacturer of the best that the Bavarian auto industry has to offer, we're pleased to hear that BMW's M division is doing well.

In an economic climate that has done no favours to the performance car sector, the German manufacturer has done a stellar job of weathering the storm. Plus, with a raft of new twin-turbocharged, V8-powered super-sedans and quick coupes in the pipeline - and the company assuring us it will "be expanding its range of high-performance sports cars" soon - we've no doubt that 2009 will be another big year for BMW M GmbH.

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