BMW's new hot hatch is faster and more powerful than its German foe.
BMW has never offered a hot hatchback in America. Sadly, the Bavarian automaker's latest offering doesn't break the tradition. Following last month's preview, BMW has unleashed the new 128ti hatchback, which will take on the Golf GTI in Europe. Judging from its performance specifications, it could give VW cause for concern. BMW introduced the TI name, which stands for Turismo Internazionale, in the 1960s to distinguish its sports models such as the iconic BMW 1800 TI and BMW 2002 TI. It was also applied to the BMW 323ti Compact and BMW 325ti Compact in the late 1990s.
Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine derived from Europe's M135i and America's 2 Series Gran Coupe generating 265 horsepower, which is sent to the front wheels through a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. 0-62 mph takes 6.1 seconds.
This makes BMW's new hot hatch faster and more powerful than the Golf GTI, which generates 245 hp and will do 0-62 mph in around 6.3 seconds.
While this may not sound like an exciting setup recipe combined with FWD, the 128ti makes up for it with its sporty driving dynamics. Specially tuned M Sport suspension lowers the car by 0.3 inches, while a Torsen limited-slip differential and tuned steering makes the 128ti more fun and engaging to drive than the performance-focused M135i. It also boasts stiffer springs and shock absorbers and is around 176 pounds lighter than the flagship M135i. As standard, the 128ti is fitted with M Sport brakes with red brake calipers for the first time in a 1 Series model. BMW's new hot hatch rides on unique 18-inch light-alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 sport tires available as a no-cost option.
Unique exterior treatments including unique covers and trim moldings, side skirt trim, and a red "ti" badge distinguish the 128ti from its standard sibling. When finished in metallic Melbourne Red or Misano Blue metallic, the accents and "ti" badge are painted in black.
Inside, red accents also adorn the sport seats, the embroidered "ti" badge in the central armrest and contrast stitching in the other armrests, door panels and instrument panels. Red stitching is also applied to the steering wheel rim and airbag cover.
As standard, the 128ti will come with a Shadowline trim in Germany with a black BMW kidney grille and black mirror caps. An optional BMW Individual lights Shadowline package for the headlights also creates a darker appearance, accentuated by the removal of various chrome trim elements.
In Germany, the BMW 128ti will go on sale in November with prices starting at €41,574.79 ($48,926.04). That makes it more expensive than the Golf GTI, which starts at €37,607.38 ($44,249.78)