In Quidditch Through the Ages says:
The charms placed on a medeival [broomstick] are similarly basic: It will only move forwards at one speed; it will go up, down, and stop. As Wizarding families in those days made their own brooms there was enormous variation in the speed, comfort, and handling of the transport available to them. By the twelfth century, however, wizards had learned to barter services, so that a skilled maker of brooms could exchange them for the potions his neighbour might make better than himself. Once broomsticks became more comfortable, they were flown for pleasure rather than merely used as a mean of getting from point A to point B.
QTTA - pages 2-3 - Evolution of the Flying Broomstick
Why were there speed differences when broomsticks were driven by magic?
Well, as the passage above notes, some witches or wizards were more skilled at making flying broomsticks as others. Just as wandmakers learn their craft through apprenticeship, perhaps broom-makers are the same and learn their craft over time. Brooms are able to fly due to charms placed on them; the skill and power of the witch or wizard imbuing the broomstick with its flying powers is going to vary. Some broom-makers will have stronger or more specialized magic than others, I'm guessing. Thus, you will see a difference between the different brands of brooms.
Regarding the Nimbus brooms, according to QTTA, the Nimbus Racing Broom Company:
galvanized the broom world in 1967. Nothing like the Nimbus 1000 had ever been seen before. Reaching speeds of up to a hundred miles per hour, capable of turning 360 degrees at a fixed point in mid-air, the Nimbus combined the reliability of the Oakshaft 79 with the easy handling of the best Cleansweeps.
QTTA - pages 50-52 - The Development of the Racing Broom
Nimbus has been at the top of the field since the introduction of the Nimbus 1000.