At the start of 2021, few people would’ve expected the hot hatch trifecta we have today.
It has resulted in one of the toughest decisions a petrolhead could make: Would you rather have the BMW 128ti, VW Golf 8 GTI, or Toyota GR Yaris.
We take a look at what’s on offer below.
The 128ti is BMW’s answer to the GTI’s hot hatch dominance.
It’s treated to many of the performance-oriented underpinnings as the range-topping 135i, but gets unique additions that put it in the “ti” family.
It’s available exclusively with M Sport suspension, making ride height 10mm lower than the rest of the range, and only comes with an 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission that sends power to the front wheels.
Moreover, firm anti-roll bars and mountings work with the stiff springs and shocks to reduce body movement and sharpen handling characteristics.
“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,” said the company.
A Torsen limited-slip differential is installed, too, with locking factors of 31% for acceleration and 26% for deceleration.
A 2.0-litre, four-cylinder motor then sits at the front and pushes out 180kW and 380Nm.
The engine is modified with a larger turbo than its siblings, and shift paddles on the steering wheel allow quick and easy gear changes.
Additional standard equipment includes Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, and M Sport brakes that are 2cm larger than those in the new GTI.
All these components add up to save 80kg in the 128ti when compared to the 135i – totaling 1,515kg.
Toyota GR Yaris
The GR Yaris sports the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine, according to Toyota.
It produces 192kW and 360Nm of torque.
Physical elements such as the engine block and crankshaft have been shaved down to the optimal point between power and rigidity, and larger valves with new technologies increases durability and performance.
A single-scroll turbocharger is also fitted – with Toyota stating that a larger-capacity unit would’ve diminished performance through turbo lag.
The turbo is then integrated into the exhaust manifold – in the spirit of reducing weight – and can be fully utilised from low airflow volumes.
A high-pressure fuel system with aluminium oil coolers is standard, too, and the intake system has been specially developed for high-output engines.
Engine mountings are also improved, and a new GR-Four all-wheel-drive system was developed just for this car.
It is the first all-wheel-drive system that Toyota has created in 20 years, and it operates between three driving modes that distribute power evenly, or as a 60:40 or 30:70 split.
A six-speed manual gearbox gets the job of putting the power down, while 18-inch cast alloy wheels, sports suspension, and brakes that are larger than the Supra’s keep you safely on the track.
All this in a car that weighs only 1,280kg.
VW Golf 8 GTI
The Golf 8 GTI is the closest that any of these cars are to their standard counterparts, as VW did not do too much under the shell.
Modifications have been made to the front axle in the form of reconfigured bearings, springs, and stops – as well as replacing it with an aluminium variant to save 3kg.
In addition, the front axle is fitted with an electronically-controlled locking differential, which offers full integration into the vehicles electronic control units.
VW claims that this technology eliminates the inherent grip disadvantages of front-wheel-drive vehicles.
“Thanks to a multi-plate clutch, the locking differential optimises grip and handling in fast corners, thus enhancing the performance and ultimately providing additional driving pleasure,” added VW.
The rear axle was not left out, either, as it receives reconfigured springs and new bearings.
The new GTI also gets adaptive chassis control and progressive steering – the latter amplifying steering inputs in certain situations.
Adaptive chassis control then continuously monitors the vehicle and its environment, and reacts as necessary.
At the heart of the new Golf 8 GTI lies a 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol motor that delivers 180kW and 370Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in the automatic model.
The performance of these vehicles is detailed below.
- Toyota GR Yaris – 5.5 seconds
- BMW 128ti – 6.3 seconds
- VW Golf 8 GTI – 6.4 seconds
- Toyota GR Yaris – 19.1 seconds
- BMW 128ti – 20.6 seconds
- VW Golf 8 GTI – 21.5 seconds
- VW Golf 8 GTI – 31 metres
- Toyota GR Yaris – 32 metres
- BMW 128ti – 33 metres
- Toyota GR Yaris – 230km/h
- BMW 128ti – 250km/h
- VW Golf 8 GTI – 250km/h
*The 0-200km/h and the 100-0km/h figures were taken from an independent website, and are not official company figures.