BMW takes on the VW Golf GTI with new 128ti hot hatch

Wait a second, doesn’t BMW already make a 1 Series hot hatch? No, your mind is not failing you – the M135i xDrive was even recently launched here in Malaysia too. Then what on earth is this BMW 128ti, then? In short, it’s BMW’s first-ever front-wheel driven hot hatch.

We know, we know, but try not to roll your eyes just yet, okay? Because the BMW 128ti does pack quite a punch, along with some mechanical improvements that we think should be given a fair chance.

Slotting in one rung below the M135i, the new 128ti will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-banger, which produces 265 hp and (currently) unknown amount of torque to drive the front wheels through a Torsen limited-slip differential and an eight-speed automatic transmission – which will be the only option.

By comparison, the M135i’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder makes 306 hp and 450 Nm of torque, while the Golf GTI – the new 128ti’s most direct rival – makes 245 hp and 370 Nm. Performance wise, the 128ti does the century sprint in 6.1 seconds, compared to 4.8 seconds on the M135i, and 5.9 seconds on the DSG-equipped GTI.

BMW doesn’t want you think that it’s just another fast 1 Series, either. The German carmaker thinks that it has done enough work to justify a new suffix – ti, which means a very un-German Turismo Internazionale, making it the third-ever BMW model to feature it.

Other mechanical upgrades befitting its new name include a reworked M Sport suspension and steering, that were specifically tuned to offer “extremely sporty and driver-oriented driving dynamics”, as well as the pre-stressed stabiliser bearing and the stabilisers taken from its more powerful brother.

The ride height has been dropped by 10 mm thanks to the M Sport suspension, and without all of the all-wheel drive doodads, BMW says that the new 128ti weighs around 80 kg lighter than the M135i xDrive.

In terms of looks though, The 128ti is just like a normal BMW 1 Series equipped with a M Sport exterior package. BMW says that the 128ti will feature “many differentiating exterior and interior features”, but for now, we can only see some camouflage film plastered near the side of the air inlets and vents, hiding some of the changes which we’ll see when the car is officially launched.

Now undergoing final calibration test drives on the hilly roads of the Eifel around the Nürburgring and of course, inside the Green Hell, the BMW 128ti will be launched in November this year, bringing the fight to the aforementioned VW Golf GTI, Renault Megane RS, Honda Civic Type R, as well as the Hyundai i30N to name a few.



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