BMW is giving its real, long-standing, diehard fans exactly what they covet: a compact coupe powered by a lusty inline six-cylinder engine, and with an indiscriminate focus on handling.

In recent years there have been whispers (and a few shouts) from enthusiasts and the media alike that BMW has lost its way. The company, once worshiped for its lithe-handling sports coupes and sedans, followed the profits and popularity of crossover SUVs and odd hatchback wagon-like things. They replaced sweetly sonorous naturally aspirated six- and eight-cylinder engines with smaller displacement turbocharged mills. And steering systems were universally switched from hypersensitive hydraulic units to relatively lifeless electric systems.

Performance continued to reach new heights, mind you, particularly for BMW’s M-cars, while fuel efficiency also improved dramatically, and yet, somehow, a little more of BMW’s soul vanished with each newer and “better” model.

But now, all the bellyaching whiners can cram it because the all-new M2 sports coupe does everything a modern M car should do, infused with the solid dose of passion and soul the BMW-lovers demand.

As an ardent fan of both the M235i and 228i I’d be remiss not to tell you that the M2 is the car I most wanted to drive this year. Despite big horsepower muscle monsters and proper full-on European sports cars being launched in 2016, the new, smallest M car held so much promise for being a refined, capable and simply brilliant machine that I just had to have some seat time.

So, is the M2 BMW’s renaissance; its rebirth as a true and honest performance car maker? It surely is.

Like all full-on, proper M-cars, the M2 is built to be an impressive and accomplished machine on the racetrack. Suspension bits have been pillaged from the M3 and M4 and are crafted from aluminum. The axles have been made from lightweight steel to shave grams here and there. And there are additional oil coolers and suction pumps added to ensure the engine doesn’t starve for lubrication at high g-loads on the track.

That’s all fine and well, but during my week with the M2, no racetrack was available to me, so this evaluation is based on the quality of the ownership experience in day-to-day living. I commuted to work. I picked up and dropped off my son at school. I got groceries. And I loved every damned minute of it in this car.

Counting it up: 2016 BMW M2 By The Numbers

Every M2 I’ve seen so far, from the launch machine at the Detroit Auto Show in January, to every subsequent photo in the media, to the one privately-owned example I’ve seen on the road, have all been finished in Long Beach Blue Metallic, just as the example you see here. It’s a sensational colour and works wonders for highlighting the bulging musculature that’s unique to the M2. Apparently M2s can also be had in other metallic colours (black, or grey), but if you don’t want to pay $895 extra, your only option is non-metallic white.

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