Its 265 hp and exquisitely sporty feel will make you forget the ever-present GTI

One of the most anticipated compact sports cars for this year 2021 is this one that concerns us today, the BMW 128ti. With 265 hp at the front axle, Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential and as the little brother of the M135i xDrive with 306 hp, it promises to give a lot of war in its segment. Will it be able to make a niche among the sports compacts? We have already had one first contact with him and we will tell you what our impressions have been.

I arrived at the BMW Spain headquarters yesterday at noon. There a new 128ti was waiting for us, arrived directly from germany so that we could test it on our usual roads. Quite a detail in these times, in which it is not appropriate to travel to Germany to test a new car, as we did before the pandemic as part of our day to day.

Design details

The first thing that stands out when looking at the 128ti in front is that at first glance you can already see that this not a series 1 anymore, nor an ordinary version. What’s more, I daresay it looks more aggressive than the M135i. Why?

Bmw 128ti Test Contact

Mainly because the 128ti has started with the M Sport finish, and a series of specific details are added that make it special and visibly more sporty and aggressive. I am referring to the specific trim and trim, as well as the side skirts also slightly different from those of the M135i, painted in orange on these units with white bodywork and clearly visible “ti” logo.

It is not a 120i upped in power and with preparation, it is a simplified M135i

Headlights BMW Individual Shadowline looking darkened They are part of the standard equipment on the “ti”. Two exhaust outlets at the rear, one on each side of the car, the specific 18-inch wheels for this version (there are 19-inch options with a two-color finish), the red details on the air intakes on the front apron and the brake calipers also painted in red as part of the M Sport sports brake kit, complete a set that promises a lot from the visual point of view.

First kilometers with the BMW 128ti

BMW 128ti Test Contact 45

After a little technical talk about the car’s features, I go to it and start it by pressing the start button. The 2.0 TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine comes to life, and it does so in a Discrete, without big bangs.

I engage the D with the eight-speed Steptronic Sport gearbox and head out onto the A6 motorway in the direction of A Coruña. Strolling around Madrid, you will not notice differences compared to a 120i. On the road, the first thing that stands out is the touch of the steering, which feels infinitely more direct than that of a Series 1 with an M package. In fact, reviewing the documentation on the car I see that it has a specific and exclusive setting for this version. , also different from the M135i.

BMW 128ti Test Contact 2

The four-cylinder in normal mode tends to offer a relaxed behavior, asking the gear change to take the highest possible ratio in order to also keep fuel consumption at bay and reward comfort. In this sense, the 128ti is a good rulerBecause despite the specifically tuned M Sport suspension lowered by 10 millimeters compared to a normal Series 1, it is not particularly uncomfortable or harsh.

These four-cylinder turbo engines allow very contained consumption in normal use

Only in very bumpy areas or in viaduct expansion joints they accuse body movements, this being the price you have to pay for having a car with a sporty feel. If you press the accelerator fully, the gearbox reacts quickly by lowering one, two or up to three gears to bring the engine to the optimum speed zone and offer the response you expect.

You can also do it with the paddles located behind the steering wheel, the ideal size and precise touch. No, if you’re already thinking about it, for now This car is not intended to be offered with a manual gearbox, a real shame.

BMW 128ti Test Contact 18

I leave the highway to enter a fun and winding mountain pass. I then switch to mode Sport, which makes the car take on a remarkably different character. The first thing he does is tighten the rope with the gearbox, which happens to go one or two gears shorter than it would in Normal mode.

The steering on the other hand feels much more direct, hence it reacts with agility to the slightest movements of the wheel. Curves arrive and the fun begins. I like the feel it offers at the entrance of the curves, with firm supports that give confidence to attack the next with more rhythm.

BMW 128ti Test Contact 19

At the exit of the curves, there is traction thanks to the work that the Torsen mechanical differential limited slip. Pass the power to the asphalt well and in this sense you will not miss the old Series 1 propulsion.

Accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in 6.1 seconds and the maximum speed is self-limited to 250 km / h

I link a couple of rather slow curves and the straight sections that separate them disappear quickly thanks to a not inconsiderable few 400 Nm torque that arrive forcefully from 1,750 to 4,500 RPM. It is easy to take advantage of the power of this engine, which does not require overstretching each gear with so much torque.

As I begin to link curves to the left and to the right, another aspect that makes this car special stands out: its lightness. Although applying these terms to a compact car weighing 1,520 kilos may seem inappropriate, the truth is that at the wheel the car feels significantly lighter than expected, in part thanks to the fact that has lost 80 kilos compared to the M135i as it lacks the xDrive traction system mainly.

BMW 128ti Test Contact 25

I increase the pace a little and the character of the car becomes more delicate, but just as effective. At the exit of the curves if you demand a lot from the front end, the wheels fight with the asphalt and front axle moves steeringSo you better hold it tight Without being as radical in this sense as the MINI GP, it does tend to pull towards the front of the curve when you accelerate with a lot of steering wheel.

For the rest, it transmits much trust thanks to a very direct connection with the mechanical assembly. You always have the feeling of controlling the grip level of the front axle, while the rear stays in place without inaccurate movements.

First conclusions of the BMW 128ti

BMW 128ti Test Contact 8

After having had a first contact of just over 150 kilometers with the 128ti, the new sports compact has left me very good taste in the mouth. I think it is worthy of the mythical acronym “ti” that corresponds to “International Tourism” and for its price of 42.900 € is positioned as the worst nightmare of the Volkswagen Golf GTI It costs 42,655 euros (44,650 euros for the GTI with DSG change).

It will go through our hands again for a more complete test later, and why not, to compare it with the Golf GTI, but in the meantime there is already one clear alternative for those looking for a car with just the right pinch of spice without going to an M Performance like the 135i xDrive.

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