I once had a tail attached to the bottom of my spinal column. Don’t judge me; you had one, too. I lost mine a little more than a month into my embryonic development. And, I presume, you did as well. Not all of us lose ours, though. While vanishingly rare, some babies are born with an honest-to-goodness cartilage-, nerve-, and muscle-filled tail. These people have what’s known as an atavism. It’s a physical trait from deep evolutionary time that occasionally pops back up and, in this case, means that the affected person will forever be referred to by the unsympathetic as “Tail Boy.” Because of the probability of significant Levi’s chaffing and never-ending ridicule, most tails are surgically removed almost immediately upon discovery. The BMW M235i also has a tail, albeit a metaphorical one. The car itself is a throwback, its genetic code expressing something that has gone nearly dormant in the last generation of small BMWs. The company is aware of this. It has even advertised this two-door model as the spiritual successor to the 2002, the model that predated the original 3-series. With all due respect, BMW is wrong about that. The 2002 is too far back in the rapidly evolving car world to share much of its character or size with any new car. Modern BMW compacts are larger and more thickly padded animals, both in physical dimensions and in the broad scale of their market appeal. The M235i instead reverts to the same general plan as the E46 M3 of the early 2000s. That’s back to a time, in other words, when our adoration for BMWs was at its most unabashed.