All cars are different, especially when it comes to clutches. Some have, as you say, a high engagement point on the clutch, where you can almost let the clutch out all of the way before it starts to engage. Others do it much lower in the clutch pedal arch (further pushed towards the firewall). It's just something you have to get used to. I cannot tell you for sure there was anything wrong with this clutch you were driving, but you never know. The big thing you need to look for is whether there was clutch slippage. This will occur under load, where you have let the clutch pedal out all the way and you get on the gas. The RPMs should slowly raise along with vehicle speed ... very linear. If the RPMs jump up, there is an issue and the clutch is probably on it's way out. As for this car you drove, you can do three things:
- Drive another BMW of about the same year, engine, and transmission. This will tell you if what you are feeling is unusual or normal.
- Take the car you are test driving to a trusted mechanic. Trusted means someone you know. Most dealerships should not have an issue with this, and if they do, walk away from the deal (because they are hiding something).
- Drive other cars with manual transmissions to see the difference of which I'm talking about.
Also, after some hard driving, if you smell a lot of something burnt, the clutch is probably going out. A little bit of smell would not be unheard of, but nothing in the stench realm.