Motors Review: Back to racing roots for BMW

Motors Review:  Back to racing roots for BMW

You can get yourself into the new 128ti for €48,952

BMW’s famed ‘ti’ badge has returned to the German carmaker’s range after a 20 year absence with the recent arrival of the 128ti sports hatch which is designed to deliver exhilarating driving enjoyment.

This five-door hatchback has truly left its mark on me. No, I don’t mean you to take that literally, but it has left a lasting impression that brings a smile to my face.

Put simply, I loved driving the 2.0 four-cylinder petrol engine with its 265 horsepower and 400Nm of torque that could be a bit of a beast when I put my foot down, or just a sweet-tempered means of driving through built up areas, but always with the hint that it was straining at the leash.

This 128ti lives up to its sporting promise with features like the Torsen limited-slip differential which, as well as increasing traction, agility and stability, also gives the car very good cornering ability.

Other features include specially-tuned bespoke M Sport suspension (lowered by 10 millimetres), eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission, and its powerful engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

Despite its strong performance, the car returns an official combined fuel consumption of 7.4 L/100kms (38mpg) and has an annual road tax of €420.

This little ‘hottie’ can sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.1 secs in Sport mode.

Most of my driving was on primary and country roads where I experienced how well this front-wheel-drive car handles. The suspension is on the taut side rather than comfort but that’s the sporty nature of the car. Other modes are Comfort, Eco and Pro.

The 128ti only comes with low-ratio, rapid gear change 8-speed automatic transmission which loses nothing over a manual version, offering a really rewarding drive experience. Shift panels on the steering wheel allow the driver to change gear manually at any point.

You can get a fuel return of around 6.4-L/100kms (44mpg) but only if you keep your foot lightly on the accelerator pedal, which especially with the car in Sport mode, is a temptation it would be hard to resist for the sheer enjoyment of being behind the wheel on the open road. That said, you won’t experience the rollercoaster effect with your cheekbones laid back, but rather just a fantastic drive experience. I loved giving it full throttle on the motorway at maximum speed allowed, but also appreciated how well it drove on primary roads. The engine is so powerful, yet is refined when needed for everyday use.

In looks, the 128ti is simply gorgeous, especially in Alpine White with its red accents. It is based on the M Sport model specification available for the BMW 1 Series, which includes distinctive front and rear aprons. But it also adds its own trim like the outer air intakes and side sills showing the ‘ti’ badge in red. Privacy glass added to the overall look. There are some other exterior colours to choose from.

The car has the black BMW kidney grille and dual black chrome tailpipe finishers as standard. Window surrounds are in a high gloss black trim and the ’128ti’ badge sits proudly on the tailgate. The 18-inch Y-spoke bi-colour light alloy wheels are exclusive to the 128ti.

Some may regard the inside as a bit flashy. But to me, it was perfection with a mix of dark cloth/leather upholstery and sporty red accents, as well as some attractive trims on the dash, doors etc. A red ‘ti’ is stitched into the centre armrest.

I appreciated the stylish look of the dashboard. The infotainment features of BMW Operating System 7.0 are accessed via a display screen of up to 10.25-inches with the optional BMW Live Cockpit Professional. Instruments look attractive in a black background with orange and red touches. Your speed is also shown here with a red line reaching from zero up to your current speed. The outside temperature showed 26.5deg C in the July heatwave.

A controller knob on the central console looks after audio, navigation, map, phone, media etc. You can also have gesture control and a big Head-Up Display as options. My car had this HUD feature which shows your current speed on the windscreen so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Cubbies include a decent glovebox, open area on the flat of the central console and a good enough area below the front armrest with a USB slot, as well as cupholders and generously sized door bins.

While there’s good space up front, the 128ti offers surprisingly good legroom for those seated in the back aided by knee indents on the backs of the front seats. There are also two USB slots in the rear. The boot floor is high and allows a luggage compartment capacity of 380 litres rising to 1,200 litres with the rear seat folded.

My car had an Auto Hold feature, dual zone climate control, folding mirrors, heated seats and ambient lighting as standard.

Standard options included a larger fuel tank, tyre repair kit, M Sport Brakes with red callipers, velour floor mats, an excellent reversing camera, ISOVIX child seat system, front sport seats, front heated seats, auto air con, Cruise control, M Sport suspension, and many other items too numerous to mention here.

You can get into the 128ti for €48,952.00 but options including a Technology Pack (€2,361.39) of Adaptive LED Headlights, Parking Assistant, Head-Up Display, enhanced Bluetooth with Wireless Charging and a WiFi Hotspot; along with heated steering wheel, special sun protection glass, and a brilliant Harman/Kardon Surround Sound Audio System, took the price of my car as tested to €53,203. Prices include VAT and VRT.

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