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BMW targets Golf GTI with 128ti. Image by BMW AG.

BMW targets Golf GTI with 128ti
BMWs ti badge makes a comeback after a lengthy hiatus on a FWD, 265hp 1 Series.
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What's all this about?

A new level of BMW performance. Well, sort of, although it's all a bit confusing. Normally, you have M Performance cars at the first tier (M340i, M550i, Z4 M40i, X5 M50i etc etc) and then the full M cars (M3, M4, M5, X5 M, X6 M etc) at the next. Well, in the new BMW 1 Series range, there's already the M Performance, 306hp M135i to go at, but instead of going 'up' from there and granting us a bonkers 1M (or M1, whatever's yer poison), we've gone down a peg to a Volkswagen Golf GTI-challenging 128ti.

Ooh, ti? That's an old BMW performance badge, right?

Yep, has been used since the 1800ti Neue Klasse of the 1960s and was seen on various '02 models in the years that followed, before its final deployments came on the E36 and E46 3 Series Compact (aka 'Hatchback) models of the late '90s and early 2000s, eventually bowing out on the 316, 318 and 325ti cars in 2004. Now it's back.

What does it mean?

Turismo Internazionale.

No, no, no! Not literally! I mean, what does it mean for the 128ti?!

Oh, right, sorry. Well, it means that instead of a very hot, 306hp, all-wheel-drive 1 Series hatchback, now you can have a moderately hot, 265hp, front-wheel-drive 1 Series hatchback. A Jalfrezi instead of a Madras, if you will. Because the current 1 Series is based on the FWD architecture that it shares with the MINI family, the lesser output of the 128ti means all the power goes to the front axle so, unless you thought the 190hp 120d was fast enough already, this is BMW's first-ever front-wheel-drive hot hatch.

Right, any more details?

It uses a detuned version of the M135i's 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, delivering the aforementioned 265hp (at 4,750-6,500rpm) and also 400Nm of torque (from 1,750-4,500rpm) to the nose through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic gearbox and a Torsen limited-slip differential. Specially tuned M Sport suspension handles the, er, handling, while the brakes and anti-roll bars from the more potent M135i are a straight lift for the M128i. Sorry, 128ti; we got ourselves confused, there. It sits 10mm lower to the floor than normal 1 Series models and has a sporty-looking exterior plus a suitably spruced-up cabin to match, and BMW is happy to say it has an 80kg weight advantage over the M135i. Therefore, expect 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds, a top speed of 155mph, fuel economy in the range of 44.1-46.3mpg, and CO2 emissions from 139-148g/km, depending on what size of wheel you specify. It launches in November of this year and is priced from 33,320, a useful 4,365 saving over a boggo M135i.

Matt Robinson - 7 Oct 2020

Earlier articles featuring 2020 BMW 1 Series

2019-05-28: BMW sports up 1 Series from the off
2019-05-26: M135i model tops new BMW 1 Series range

2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.

2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.2020 BMW 128ti Returns. Image by BMW AG.    - BMW road tests
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