Is the BMW 1 Series 128ti the latest competition for the VW Golf GTI?

BMW Group South Africa has introduced the 2021 BMW 1 Series 128ti (it stands for "Turismo Internazionale"), featuring a range of M Performance goodies. The front-wheel-drive hot hatch will hit the showrooms here in the first quarter of 2021 and could compete against the likes of Volkswagen Golf GTI, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Renault Megane RS, Hyundai i30 N, and Honda Type R.

The 2021 BMW 1 Series 128ti sits below the M135i xDrive, which is an all-wheel-drive variant creating 225 kW and 450 Nm of torque. The 128ti uses a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol mill that churns out 180 kW (from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm) and 380 Nm (from 1,500 to 4,400 rpm). The engine pairs with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission with paddle shifters.

The European and UK model generates a higher output of 195 kW and 400 Nm. It means the Munich-based automaker has slightly detuned the engine for the South African market. While the real reason behind this move is unknown, we believe it could be due to the hot climate here, fuel quality, and more cost per unit. 

While the European-spec 128ti can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 6.1 seconds, the South African and Australian model does the same job in 6.3 seconds. The electronically limited top speed stands at 243 kph instead of 250 kph of the European model. 

What makes the drive so special is lowered M Sport Suspension (10mm lower than the 135i), encompassing sturdier anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts with high preload, in addition to stiffer springs and shock absorbers. Besides, the 128ti boasts an M Sport braking system with red calipers comprising of 360 mm ventilated discs with aluminum 4-piston monoblock fixed calipers at the front and 300 mm discs at the back.

To make the 2021 BMW 1 Series 128ti attractive and purposeful, the German automaker has added M Sport bumpers to the front and rear featuring high-gloss black inserts and unique sculpted side air intakes, in addition to air vents at the back polished in red. 

Furthermore, it boasts a black grille, -side-mirror caps, and BMW Individual High-gloss Shadowline window trim. The murky "BMW Individual" headlight finish is available. Additionally, we can find the "128ti" emblem on the tailgate in chrome and two tailpipes of 90 mm diameter. 

The racy-red theme adorns the interior with a red-stripe design on the backrests of the regular Sensatec/cloth sport seats. You will also find a red "ti" sewn into the centre armrest, complementing the different seam on the door panels and armrests, instrument panel, floor-mat borders, and the typical M Sport steering wheel.

The 2021 BMW 1 Series 128ti comes equipped with a black headliner, an M footrest, stainless steel-capped M pedals, M strips on the front door sills, and M seat belts. The sport seats or M Sport seats are available, decked either in Trigon/Sensatec upholstery in black with unique BMW M piping and blue contrast seam or with Dakota leather in Magma Red or black.

It is early to tell how the new 2021 BMW 1 Series 128ti will fare against its rivals. However, one thing is sure it is tuned specifically to give the new Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI a tough time. Let's see who wins the race!

Please note the imagery supplied in this blog was taken off

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