MUNICH – The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the quintessential performance hatch, and while it’s no longer the most potent of its kind, following the advent of the hyper-hatch, it is often still regarded as the benchmark.
It’s into this mid-powered, front-wheel drive space that BMW is launching the new 128ti, and it could well prove to be the pick of the 1 Series bunch. Slotting below the all-wheel drive M135i xDrive, the front-driven 128ti is powered by a 195kW, 400Nm version of BMW’s 2-litre turbopetrol engine, paired with the familiar eight-speed automatic gearbox. For the record, the eighth-generation Golf GTI that’s due in SA soon is good for 180kW and 400Nm.
Although the 128i loses 30kW to its bigger sibling, the newcomer is 80kg lighter than the flagship hatch, allowing for a respectable 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds.
But any hot hatch worth its salt also requires some chassis trickery and to that end BMW has thrown in a specially tuned M Sport suspension that lowers the car by 10mm, as well as a Torsen limited-slip differential and model-specific steering tuning. The 128ti also shares its firmer anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts with the M135i, as well as its M Sport braking system with red-painted callipers.
The 128ti rides on model-specific 18-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels, and buyers can order it with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres at no extra cost. Also setting it apart from regular 1 Series models is an extended Shadowline package that includes high-gloss black colouring for the grille and mirror caps, and the M Sport model also gets red treatment for the front and rear air curtains and side skirts – which is replaced with black trim if you order the car in Melbourne Red or Misano Blue.
Standard sports seats with red accents provide the interior gees, along with red contrast stitching for the steering wheel, door trims and instrument panel. You’ll also find ‘ti’ lettering embroidered into the centre arm rest.
BMW South Africa has confirmed that the new 128ti will hit local showrooms in the first quarter of 2021.