Jaco van der Merwe
Head of Motoring
1 minute read
26 Feb 2021
8:36 am

WATCH: BMW declares hot hatch war on Golf GTI

Jaco van der Merwe

Newly-arrived 128ti sets sights on Volkswagen’s iconic pocket rocket.

Has the Volkswagen Golf GTI met its match? Enter the new BMW 128ti

Although it officially fits into the 1 Series, the 128ti is in many ways a species on its own. It’s siblings, the 118i and M135i, is a mildly-mannered, front-wheel drive offering and performance model utilising all-wheel-drive respectively.

The 128ti on the other hand is a charming old school, front-wheel driven pocket rocket. It offers great handling to match the grunt, sounds good and looks the part too with the help of distinctive styling cues. A true “driver’s” car as BMW puts it.

The lettering “ti” refers to “Turismo Internazionale” and has a special place in BMW’s history reserved for particularly sporty models. This nomenclature has featured on the legendary 2002 TI (1986-71) and 325ti (1997-2000).

The 128ti is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that produces 180 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque and is mated to the eight-speed sport Steptronic transmission. BMW claims that it will reach 100 km/h from a standstill in 6.3sec, edging the GTI’s claimed number of 6.4sec.

The hardware also includes M Sport brakes, M Sport suspension tuning, Torsen limited slip front-axle differential and adapted BMW Performance Control, while launch control comes a standard. BMW Live Cockpit Plus and Connected Package Professional further adds the comprehensive list of features.

Signature red details and ti-specific badging on the outside and inside the cabin give the 128ti its own unique character. The 128ti is a well-rounded package offered at a very competitive price of R687 418. It should give VW some food for thought.

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