BMW 128ti – A Luxury car to fight Honda Civic and Ford Focus. The first front-wheel-drive hot hatch in BMW history, the 128ti, has just been officially launched.
Under the M135i xDrive, which was launched a long time ago, the BMW 128ti revives the ti (Turismo Internaziole) name line used by BMW sports cars such as 1800 TI, 2002 TI, 323ti Compact or 325ti Compact at the end of 1990s.
The heart of this controversial hot hatch is a 261 hp turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-liter, 400 Nm of torque with an 8-speed Steptronic Sport gearbox and front-wheel drive. This configuration allows the car to accelerate from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.1 seconds – a pretty good figure.
The cause of the 128ti’s controversy and most likely offending BMW fans is the rebirth of the ti name for a front-wheel-drive model instead of the iconic Bavarian brand. In addition, the car’s aim for the more popular category (but the price is still quite harsh) instead of keeping the high-end BMW quality is also considered blatant blasphemy.
The Exterior of BMW 128ti separates itself from other 1-Series versions by Shadowline trim, radiator with black mirror cover, exclusive door sills and “ti” badge. The cabin also features a similar badge and contrasting red stitching on the dashboard, seats, doors, steering wheel as well as the center console cluster. The starting price of the BMW 128ti falls at about USD 48,800, the car starts selling in November
The new BMW 128ti is far more than an additional engine variant within the BMW 1 Series range. It fills the gap between the BMW 120i and BMW M135i xDrive and is positioned as an unfiltered driving machine directly below the all-wheel-drive range-topping model. Market launch will take place in November 2020, with prices in Germany starting at €41,574.79 (incl. 16% VAT).
The new BMW 128ti is based on the M Sport model specification available for the BMW 1 Series. This means it has a distinctive front apron with specially sculpted air intakes and the rear apron from the M Sport in High-gloss Black. The BMW 128ti underscores its standalone character with striking coloured accents. The special covers for the outer air intakes carried over from the front apron of the flagship BMW M135i xDrive and the trim for the Air Curtains (High-gloss Black elsewhere in the 1 Series range) are in a sporting red colour, like the air vents exiting the rear wheel arches in the rear bumper. The side skirt trim and “ti” badge located above it ahead of the rear wheels are likewise red on examples of the BMW 128ti with Storm Bay metallic, Mineral Grey metallic, Sapphire Black metallic or Alpine White paintwork. If the BMW 128ti is ordered with the Melbourne Red metallic or Misano Blue metallic finishes, the accents and “ti” badge (which can all be deleted, if desired) come in black.
Exclusive exterior features
The BMW 128ti has extended Shadowline trim with black BMW kidney grille and black mirror caps as standard in Germany. The optional BMW Individual lights Shadowline for the headlights creates a darker appearance, helped by the absence of various chrome trim elements. The window graphic surrounds feature BMW Individual High-gloss Shadowline trim. The “128ti” badge on the tailgate is in chrome, and the two exhaust tailpipes have a diameter of 90 millimetres and eye-catching inserts. The BMW 128ti also comes with the 18-inch Y-spoke 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels designed exclusively for this model variant.
The interior of the BMW 128ti features high-class materials and extends the use of red accents from the exterior into the cabin. These accents create a bold contrast against the sporty black headliner, for example. A large Race Red surface adorns the backrests of the standard Sensatec/cloth sport seats. A red “ti” is stitched into the centre armrest which – like the other armrests, the door panels, the instrument panel and floor mat edging – also features red contrast stitching. The steering wheel rim and airbag cover of the standard M Sport steering wheel also have red stitching. Customers who find the red contrasts too conspicuous can have them deleted. Standard specification for the BMW 128ti also includes the M footrest and M pedals with stainless steel caps, the M door sill strips on the front door openings, and M seat belts. The Boston variant of the innovative backlit trim strips has been selected, with Berlin, Brooklyn and Nizza available as alternatives.
Dakota leather and M sport seats available as options
The sport seats are also available as an option in perforated Dakota leather – in Black, in Black with blue accents (which also brings blue stitching for the instrument panel) or in Magma Red with grey accents. If the latter is chosen, the contrast stitching on the instrument panel also comes in grey, the centre console is covered with leather in Magma Red, the stitching and “ti” badge are in grey, and the floor mats have stitching in the BMW M colours (as they do when the black Dakota leather with blue accents is specified). M sport seats with integral head restraints and extendable seat surfaces are available as an option, either in Trigon/Sensatec upholstery in Black with special BMW M piping and blue contrast stitching or – like the sport seats – with Dakota leather in Magma Red or Black.
The concept for operating the functions of the BMW 128ti using the grouped control clusters is focused squarely on the driver. Access to the optional infotainment features of BMW Operating System 7.0 is via a large display grouping, whose two displays have a diagonal of up to 10.25 inches in the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. Gesture control is also available, and a 9.2-inch BMW Head-Up Display can be specified as an option. The load compartment has a capacity of 380 litres, rising to 1,200 litres with the rear seat bench folded. Electric tailgate operation is also among the items on the options list.
Chassis and driving dynamics
The new BMW 128ti boasts a wealth of detail improvements and is available exclusively with M Sport suspension specially tuned to its distinctive character. The new model brings a 10-millimetre decrease in ride height for a lower centre of gravity and a sportier appearance. It also adopts the firmer anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts with high preload from the range-topping BMW M135i xDrive, as well as stiffer springs and shock absorbers that have been modified accordingly. The result is even sharper driving dynamics, helped by the reduced body movement that comes with the bespoke M Sport suspension. This combines with a model-specific steering setup – precisely adapted to suit this powerful front-wheel-drive car – which has been designed to further reduce torque steer. Feel for the road surface is not diminished in any way, though. Add optimised front axle elastokinematics to the equation and all the ingredients are in place to fully utilise the dynamic performance potential of the BMW 128ti. This is further facilitated by a weight saving of around 80 kilograms over the all-wheel-drive BMW M135i xDrive.
Torsen limited-slip differential for improved traction
The front axle of the BMW 128ti is equipped as standard with the same Torsen limited-slip differential employed on the BMW M135i xDrive. With locking factors of 31 per cent when accelerating (BMW M135i xDrive: 36 per cent) and 26 per cent when decelerating, it is a perfect solution for the engine output and front-wheel-drive concept of the BMW 128ti. As well as increasing traction, agility and stability, the limited-slip differential also gives the car superior cornering prowess. If the inside wheel loses grip while powering through a bend and the driver accelerates at the same time, the limited-slip differential directs more torque to the wheel with greater grip, thereby preventing wheel slip and enhancing traction and agility. When driving on the overrun – during a dynamic lane change for instance – the differential improves stability and cornering behaviour if a wheel rotates more slowly (or is about to lock up) by distributing the torque to the wheels individually. This translates into composed, dynamic handling combined with enhanced driving pleasure.
BMW Performance Control and ARB technology at work
The mechanical limited-slip differential is assisted in its task by a number of electronic control systems. One system that has been specially modified for the BMW 128ti is BMW Performance Control, whose “sharper” yaw moment distribution boosts rear axle agility. ARB (near-actuator wheel slip limitation) technology is likewise on board, as it is on all models in the BMW 1 Series range. This newly developed traction control system – that made its debut in combustion-engined variants of the 1 Series – features a slip controller positioned directly in the engine control unit rather than in the control unit for the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system, enabling ARB to work ten times more quickly. As a result, not only is operation smoother and more sensitive, the system can also make maximum use of the potential traction offered by different road surfaces. The ARB technology works in close tandem with DSC to significantly reduce power understeer – a typical drawback of front-wheel-drive cars – without the need for corrective inputs to stabilise lateral dynamics.
Standard M Sport brakes and sport tyres at no extra cost
As in the BMW M135i xDrive flagship model, the requisite stopping power in the BMW 128ti is provided by the standard M Sport brakes, whose callipers bear the M logo at the front axle and are painted red (a first for a BMW 1 Series model). Aluminium four-piston monoblock fixed callipers and 360 x 30-millimetre inner-vented discs are employed at the front wheels, while floating callipers with inner-vented brake discs measuring 300 x 20 millimetres can be found at the rear. The M Sport brakes stand out with their increased fade resistance and exceptional feel. The exclusive 18-inch Y-spoke 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels fitted on the BMW 128ti can be specified with sport tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport 4) in 225/40 R18 format as a no-cost option. The 18-inch M Performance double-spoke 554 M forged wheel in Jet Black matt and the 19-inch double-spoke 552 M light-alloy item for 235/35 R19 tyres are also among the available options.
Engine and powertrain
The engine in the BMW 128ti is a direct offshoot of the BMW Group’s most powerful four-cylinder unit, which was developed for models including the BMW M135i xDrive (where it develops 225 kW / 306 hp). The engine was modified with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology for the new compact sports model. It now produces 195 kW (265 hp) from its 2.0-litre displacement across a rev band from 4,750 – 6,500 rpm. Peak torque of 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) is available from 1,750 – 4,500 rpm. All of which means the BMW 128ti dispatches the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.1 seconds en route to a governed top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Despite these sporty performance figures, the 128ti burns just 6.4 – 6.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres [44.1 – 46.3 mpg imp] and emits just 148 – 139 grams of CO2 per kilometre. This enables it to meet the Euro 6d exhaust standard. The standard Active Sound Design (ASD) provides specific amplification of the authentic engine sound and adapts it judiciously to the character of the BMW 128ti. This results in a thrilling, richly sporting aural experience for the driver, without any increase in external noise emissions.
Rapid gear changes with the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission
Like the range-topping BMW M135i xDrive, the BMW 128ti is fitted as standard with the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. Shift comfort and acoustics were further optimised in 2019 for the current BMW 1 Series model range. Fast automatic gear changes ensure the highest possible gear is engaged at all times, even at low road speeds. Shift paddles on the steering wheel also allow the driver to change gear manually at any time.
M Performance Parts
Customers can give their new BMW 128ti an even more individual touch with accessories from the exclusive M Performance Parts range. As well as enhancing the car’s sporty, dynamic exterior styling, the Parts also do a functional job in terms of lightweight construction and aerodynamics. Playing a major role here is the extensive racing expertise of BMW M GmbH, which has been channelled into the development of the M Performance Parts.
Sporty lightness to enhance aerodynamics and exterior styling
Various lightweight parts in new carbon-fibre look and High-gloss Black components further enhance the sporting appearance of the BMW 128ti. The M Performance Front splitter, the roof-edge spoiler with air through-flow and the aero flics in High-gloss Black optimise aerodynamics, further boosting the dynamic talents of the compact sports model. The same goes for the rear diffuser in carbon fibre. All of these M Performance Parts have been developed specifically for the BMW 1 Series and adapted in the wind tunnel to work together perfectly. The high-quality carbon-fibre components, which also include M Performance Exterior mirror caps, are made by hand with great skill. They are sealed with clear coat and given a high-gloss polished finish. Added to the available wheels are the 18-inch forged wheel Y-Spoke 711 M in Ferric Grey (suitable for snow chains) and the 19-inch M Performance bi-colour light-alloy wheel Double-spoke 555 M with polished finish.
Motor sport feeling in the interior
The M Performance steering wheel with pronounced Alcantara gripping area and large thumb rests brings further racing-car authenticity to the BMW 128ti interior. As well as being very agreeable to the touch and offering outstanding grip, the red marking in the 12 o’clock position and the silver-grey hand cross-stitching also provide visual flourishes. The car’s high-tech sporting character can be elevated to still greater heights by the M Performance Steering wheel cover in carbon fibre/Alcantara or carbon fibre/leather with M Performance lettering. Setting the seal on the racing ambience of the cockpit in suitable style are the high-quality M Performance Shift paddles in carbon fibre for the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission.