BMW’s third-generation 1 Series has been a controversial car for loyal followers of the brand.
With its transversely mounted engine and front-wheel drive configuration, the current 1 Series goes against many of the brand values, once held dear, by BMW fans.
The change in platform and design for 1 Series, has also brought it into closer rivalry with Volkswagen’s Golf. And by implication, that means GTI.
128ti to continue proud BMW compact car record
BMW already produces a high-performance version of the 1 Series under the M135i xDrive, which features all-wheel drive. Now the Bavarian automaker has revealed its latest hatchback development, one which is putting it in direct competition with VW’s Golf GTI.
This new front-wheel drive BMW performance variant, is called the 128ti. That naming convention might appear odd, but those who know BMW’s history well, will remember that “ti” corresponds to compact performance cars in the company’s past.
Vehicles such as the legendary 2002ti, from the 1970s, come to mind – illustrating that BMW has a proud record of designing outstanding compact cars.
Less power but smoother
Although it uses the same basic two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine architecture as M135i xDrive, this new 128ti is less potent, but potentially better as a daily driver. BMW has confirmed technical details for the new derivative, which has now finished its final development phase and is ready for production.
Whereas the M135i xDrive produces 225kW and 450Nm, the front-wheel drive 128ti delivers 195kW and 400Nm, both numbers which compare very favourably with VW’s Golf8 GTI, which produces 180kW and 370Nm.
To ensure the front wheels are not overburdened during peak acceleration runs, BMW’s engineers have fitted a Torsen limited-slip differential and enhanced the car’s suspension settings.
The claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time is 6.1 seconds, which is class competitive for a hot hatchback, while an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission has enough gearing to deliver excellent economy or a 250km/h top speed.
Restoring the faith
For those BMW fans who are disappointed at the brand’s new front-wheel drive products, the 128ti could restore a lot of faith. It has credible engine performance and the trick front differential promises a more engaging driver experience.
The 128ti rides 10mm lower than a conventional 1 Series, giving it superior lateral agility and stability through corners. BMW has also included some of the M135i xDrive’s components on the new front-wheel drive hot hatch, such as better stabiliser bearings for the suspension system and M Sport specification brakes.
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