After giving us a preview of the F40 BMW 128ti last month, the German carmaker has now revealed its latest hot hatch in full. Slotting in below the M135i xDrive in the 1 Series line-up, the new variant is set to go on sale in Germany in November, with prices starting at 41,575 euros (RM202,835).
So, what’s with the “ti” badge? Well, BMW says that since the 1960s, the badge (previously “TI”) stood for “Turismo Internazionale,” which serves to mark out particularly sporty members of a model range. This began in 1963 with the BMW 1800 TI and continued on with the BMW 2002 TI, which were then followed by the 3 Series Compact range (323ti and 325ti) in the 1990s.
With that clarification out of the way, let’s talk specifications. Like the M135i and 120i, the 128ti sports a B48 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet that serves up 265 PS (261 hp) between 4,750-6,500 rpm and 400 Nm of torque between 1,750-4,500 rpm.
An eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission is paired with the engine, but drive only goes to the front wheels as there is no xDrive all-wheel drive system, unlike with the M135i. Performance-wise, the 128ti will take 6.1 seconds to get from zero to 100 km/h and is electronically limited to a top speed of 250 km/h.
Those are healthy numbers, but they pale in comparison to the M135i, which packs 306 PS (302 hp) and 450 Nm, along with a quicker century sprint time of 4.8 seconds – the top speed is identical. This isn’t surprising given the new variant’s place in the line-up, and the 128ti is geared more towards taking on the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8, which has lower outputs compared to the BMW model – 245 PS (242 hp) and 370 Nm.
To go along with the available grunt, the 128ti also adopts some items from its more powerful sibling, including firmer anti-roll bars, anti-roll bar mounts with high preload, stiffer springs and shock absorbers. An M Sport suspension package is also standard, and this brings with it a decrease in ride height by 10 mm.
The M135i’s Torsen limited-slip differential is also carried over, offering locking factors of 31% when accelerating (M135i: 36%) and 26% when decelerating. Other chassis features are optimised front axle elastokinematics and a model-specific steering setup to reduce torque steer.
Supporting systems include BMW Performance Control and the company’s ARB (near-actuator wheel slip limitation) technology, both standard on all 1 Series variants. Meanwhile, stopping power is provided by M Sport brakes, with 360-mm discs and four-piston fixed calipers at the front, while 300-mm discs and single-piston floating calipers find their place at the rear.
In terms of styling, the 128ti wears the M Sport specification with the same front and rear bumper designs as the M135i. However, to ensure you don’t confuse the two, BMW has applied a red finish on the 128ti’s front Air Curtain and vents exiting the rear wheel arches around back. If that isn’t enough, the side skirts and “ti” badge located above it also get the same colour.
These red accents are present only on cars painted Storm Bay, Mineral Grey, Sapphire Black or Alpine White, while black is used for Melbourne Red or Misano Blue finishes. A set of 18-inch Y-spoke style 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels designed exclusively for the variant are also standard, along with a chrome “128ti” badge on the tailgate and two exhaust tailpipes measuring 90 mm in diameter.
Additional exterior features include the Extended Shadowline trim, where the kidney grille and mirror caps are finished in high-gloss black, as well as dark-tinted headlamps that come with the BMW Individual lights Shadowline package.
Inside, you are again reminded that you’re inside a 128ti thanks to a red “ti” stitched into the centre armrest. Sporty elements found in the cabin include a large Race Red surface on the backrests of the standard Sensatec/cloth sport seats, along with copious amounts of red contrast stitching. BMW notes that customers who find the red contrasts too conspicuous can have them deleted.
As standard, you get a M footrest and M pedals with stainless steel caps, M door sill strips on the front door openings and M seat belts. Backlit trim strips are also available in four versions – Boston, Berlin, Brooklyn and Nizza, while Dakota leather and Trigon/Sensatec upholstery are options for the seats, along with integral head restraints and extendable seat surfaces.
Technologies present include the BMW Live Cockpit Professional system with two 10.25-inch displays, BMW Operating System 7.0 and a variety of connected features. Those who want more things to look at can add on a 9.2-inch head-up display as well.
Of course, BMW also offers a range of accessories and parts from the M Performance catalogue, so if you want certain exterior bits like the front splitter, roof-edge spoiler, aero flics, rear diffuser and mirror caps to be in carbon-fibre or high-gloss black, you have the option to do so.
Also on offer are wheels – 18-inch forged Y-Spoke style 711 M in Ferric Grey and 19-inch M Performance double-spoke style 555 M in a polished finish – along with carbon-fibre paddle shifters and an M Performance steering wheel with Alcantara or leather upholstery, 12 o’clock red marking and optional carbon-fibre trim.
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