BMW knows the pricing of the M3 in the US is crucial to them hitting their 100K target. They can't go for high volume AND overly high price, can they?
When comparing the E92 M3 to the E46 M3, the E92 will be a little quicker (15% better HP to weight), will offer better transmission tech (DCT vs SMG), and be more refined.
Comparing the E46 M3 to the E36 M3 it replaced, it had a 30% improvement in power to weight, was MUCH faster, had a lot better interior, more tech (S54 engine, variable ramp LSD, stability control, bigger stock wheels and tires, etc.) and only cost about $6K more ($41,500 for E36 vs. $47,500 for the E46). This was during a time when there were not nearly the number of worthy competitors there are now. Another point of reference was that the E46 M3 cost a bit more than a C5 Corvette with 350 HP, crappy interior and construction.
If BMW elevates the M3's price into the $60Ks, it will be priced $15K+ above the C6 Corvette that is MUCH faster than it (436 HP, 3300 lbs) and will destroy it on any road course. It will also be $12K+ more than the outgoing E46 M3, and will tread into waters occupied by HUGE performers (upcoming Nissan GTR, C Z06) or very nice Porsches (Cayman S, 911s).
In the training materials for salespeople BMW continually references the 911 as its target. If it is, they may think they can get away with $60Ks pricing. And for the more budget minded enthusiasts, they can just sell them a 335i or 135i - either way they win!
Driving sideways: It's not faster, but damn it's more fun!