The local launch of the BMW 128ti is on the horizon, according to several reports.
It slots in between the 120i and 135i xDrive and is a proper, front-wheel-drive hot hatch that has its sights set on dethroning the VW Golf GTI.
At its core are important mechanical underpinnings from the range-topping model – along with the less-impressive interior appointments of the lower trims.
These are combined to make a more wallet friendly 1-Series that can roll with the big names.
The latest F40 BMW 1-Series was released in 2019.
It didn’t look anything like the previous generation and it was the first front-wheel-drive car from BMW, which made for quite the unwelcome landing.
Nearly two years later, though, it has become a popular model for the brand with the entry-level 118i accounting for nearly 12% of their local sales for 2020, according to Naamsa.
BMW has built upon this by launching the 128ti, which offers the same features as the entry-level models, but provides higher levels of driving dynamics and a differentiated look.
Exterior wise, the 128ti is set apart by red air curtains on the front and rear, red side skirts, and a blacked-out kidney grille on the nose.
Fewer pieces of chrome around the bodywork have been placed as the Shadowline trim was opted for as base spec.
The Shadowline also sees the addition of black mirror caps and optional darkened headlights.
Exclusive 18-inch wheels have been fitted to each 128ti, and these are in the Y-spoke 553 M bi-colour design.
Just in front of the rear wheels you will find “ti” nomenclature, and extra “128” badging will assure that this variant stands out.
A nice splash of colour has then been added by fitting red brake calipers, which complement the rest of the red detailing and conclude the exterior revisions.
Moving inside, the interior remains distinctly BMW.
It is driver focused with angled instruments and surfaces made of high-quality materials.
The seats are two-tone leather and cloth with vertical design patterns, while the red detailing from the outside has flowed into the cabin.
Apart from the seats, there is red contrast stitching on most surfaces, exclusive floor mats with red edging, and a red “ti” logo embroidered on the centre console.
A leather, multifunction steering wheel with an additional integrated airbag and M badging is also fitted as standard.
Drivers will receive the iDrive infotainment system and BMW live cockpit plus, too, which sees a digital instrument cluster that is personalisable depending on the drive mode.
These systems provide an 8.8-inch display on the dash along with several features such as smartphone mirroring, sat nav, and Bluetooth connectivity.
At the heart of the 128ti lies a 2.0-litre, turbocharged engine.
This motor produces 180kW of power and 380Nm of torque, and is mated to an 8-speed automatic sports transmission.
This lets the sporty hatchback race to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds – which makes the 128ti 0.2 seconds quicker to 100km/h than the seventh-generation Golf GTI.
BMW didn’t stop there, however, as driving dynamics were a large area of focus for the production of this car.
It receives a larger turbo than its siblings, a new slip differential that improves handling and traction, more capable M Sport brakes and M sport suspension.
The latter sees the 128ti lowered by 10mm compared to the standard variants – at 1,434mm tall – and allows for more direct handling and steering feel.
In addition to the stiffer springs and shock absorbers, firmer anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts have been fitted, which makes the BMW have very little body roll.
All these features allow the 128ti to weigh in around 80kg less than the range-topping 135i, at an unladen weight of 1,515kg.
The local launch date of the 128ti has not been confirmed just yet.
Luckily, however, its starting price has been listed – R687,418.
With this you will receive a 5-year/100,000km BMW motor plan.