BMW's Golf GTI Rival Takes Shape

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The BMW 128ti is baying for Golf GTI blood.

Aside from the BMW i3, the US has never received a BMW hatchback. While the rest of the world got three- and five-door versions of the 1 Series hatchback, here in the States, we only got the 1 Series Coupe. This wasn't a bad thing, as the 1 Series, and now the 2 Series Coupe as it has become known, are phenomenal cars in their own rights. But there's a new piece of forbidden fruit from BMW, as the luxury automaker has revealed images of a new hot hatch undergoing final testing at the Nurburgring. The BMW 128ti is out for Golf GTI blood, packing a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine developing 265 horsepower with twist sent to the front wheels.

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BMW
BMW
BMW

It isn't the most potent 1 Series money can buy, as foreign markets receive an all-wheel-drive M135i xDrive with 301 hp on tap that rivals the Audi S3 and Mercedes-AMG A35 and is mechanically identical to the US market 2 Series Gran Coupe. This is, however, the first time BMW will be targeting the Golf GTI, and the headline figures look impressive.

he 265-hp output is channeled via an eight-speed automatic gearbox and a Torsen limited-slip differential; unlike the GTI, there is no manual version available. BMW cites a 0 to 62 mph time of just 6.1 seconds for the 128ti, but the focus here isn't on outright acceleration.

The steering and suspension have been exclusively tuned for performance, making it sportier and more driver-oriented, unlike the M135i xDrive which is simply a much quicker 1 Series with added fire. It's up to 176 lbs lighter than the M135i and rides 10 mm lower to the tarmac. M Sport brakes ensure supreme stopping power.

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BMW
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BMW

The 128ti will also benefit from unique interior and exterior design cues, all of which culminates in a vehicle aimed at a younger audience. That audience won't be found in America, however, as BMW still has no plans to bring the 1 Series stateside.

It may be a missed opportunity, however, as the hot hatch segment is now dwindling in the US. With the demise of the Ford Focus and Fiesta, both ST variants have been culled. At present, only the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai Veloster N vie for consumer attention in the segment. The Golf GTI carries over to 2021 in its seventh generation form, but an all-new model will arrive for 2022 with 242 hp sent to the front wheels through a manual or DSG gearbox. When it does arrive, it'll be less focused than the Veloster and Civic Type R, so the BMW 128ti could be just the competition the VW needs.

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BMW
BMW
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BMW

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