BMW has released pictures, specifications and pricing of its latest compact sportscar ahead of its official global debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

Continuing its new nomenclature whereby coupes take even numbers and four- or five-door cars odd numbers, the BMW 2 Series is essentially a curvy, angular, two-door version of the 1 Series, but one with impeccable road-holding and a massive amount of performance despite its diminutive proportions.

The M235i, which will make its global debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in January, is a massive attempt by the German manufacturer to crack the U.S. ‘sub-compact' market in the way that it already has the premium executive sedan sector.

So should potential U.S. customers get excited? The simple answer is that if they love driving and want something that's as exhilarating on a track as it is easy to drive along a chronically congested highway and that offers bulletproof reliability and build quality, yes.

There are currently a number of great-driving, inexpensive two-door coupes on the market, not least the incredibly entertaining Toyota GT 86. But with its 50:50 perfect weight distribution and twin-turbo in-line six cylinder engine (322 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque), good for a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds, the BMW raises the bar.

At $44,025 it is on the expensive side, but as well as the ferocious engine, prospective owners will get a specially tweaked suspension set-up, serious brakes and a host of electronic gadgetry -- including dynamic traction control, cornering and dynamic brake control -- to keep the car pointing straight and true even as grip levels reach their limits. Serious drivers can also go crazy with the options catalogue and choose adaptive suspension, electronically controlled shock absorbers and even specify a 10-20mm lower ride height.

For those that like to live their driving lives a little further away from the edge, BMW will also offer a slightly more diluted and civilized 228i coupe with a four-cylinder twin-turbocharged 240hp engine which is still good for a 0-100km/h time of 5.4 seconds. It will come with a price tag of $33,025.

However, unlike in Europe -- where when the 2 Series launches next year, it will do so alongside the 1 Series five-door hatchback -- BMW has this week announced that it is to cease production of the 1 Series for the U.S. market.