By Otsile Kadiege
Last year, BMW cooked up an alternative to the popular and much-loved Volkswagen Golf GTI – the 128ti (Turismo Internazionale). In a bid to stir a brawl with the Wolfsburg stalwart, the Bavarian’s newcomer matches the Golf GTI’s power locally and it’s also solely available with a front-wheel drivetrain. The 128ti is slightly more expensive than its arch-rival, however, it comes standard with a lot more equipment. We recently spent some time with BMW’s vrrpha to see if it’s worth ‘dropping the G’.
Setting itself apart from the rest of the 1 Series range the BMW 128ti is instantly recognisable by red accents on the front air intakes, side skirts as well as model-specific decals and badging. Should you wish to fly under the radar you can ask BMW to remove the red detailing at no extra cost. The latter however complements our Sapphire Black metallic coated test car. As standard, the 128ti is fitted with model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels with red brake calipers.
Inside, the red theme continues with red stitching throughout the interior, red piping on the floor mats and ‘ti’ branding on the centre armrest. The 128ti is fitted with an optional panoramic sunroof and a must-have Harmon Kardon surround sound system. The interior of the 128ti is one of the car’s highlights. It’s well-executed with dominant soft-touch materials and comfortable seats.
The BMW 128ti is powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 180kW power and 380Nm torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission propelling the sporty hatchback from 0 to 100km/h in just 6.3 seconds. It comes with M Sport Suspension which lowers the car by 10mm as well as a unique steering setup and Torsen limited-slip differential.
Fun was the order of the day during the few days we’ve spent with BMW’s 128ti. Straight off the bat, the 128ti delivered plenty of thrills thanks to its potent turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine. Engaging Launch Control was a bit tricky but when we got it right the front-wheel drive 128ti sprints off with a hint of torque steer and tyre squeal. That said, the 128ti felt glued to the tarmac when tackling the twistiesat speed. One thing which left us a bit disappointed was the lack of bark from its exhaust system. We feel like this should’ve been one of the priorities during its development stages, especially when considering its arch-rival.
Overall we’ve enjoyed living with BMW’s vrrpha but is it a worthy contender to the much-loved Volkswagen Golf GTI? Absolutely, it’s a proper potent premium hatchback which can easily be daily driven. Pricing for the BMW 128ti starts at R744,259,80.
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