Today BMW takes the wraps off of a very different kind of performance product. With its specially tuned M Sport suspension (lowered by 10 millimeters), a Torsen limited-slip differential and a bespoke steering application, the exclusively front-wheel-drive BMW 128ti is BMW’s first true hot-hatch. And no, it’s not coming to North America.
Harkening back to the 2002ti yet unapologetically front wheel drive, the BMW 128ti carries over the M tuned suspension from the BMW M135i xDrive but without the heavy xDrive system. The result is a more focused performance model that weighs 176 lbs less than the flagship M135i.
The 2.0-litre engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology is a direct offshoot of the variant in the BMW M135i xDrive but tuned down to develop 265 hp. Perhaps the only bad news for enthusiasts in its spec is that a eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission is the only option.
A standard-fitted M Sport braking system with red-painted brake calipers provides the same stopping power as in the M135i but with a lot less weight to deal with. The 18-inch Y‑spoke 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels are reserved exclusively for the BMW 128ti, while sport tyres (Michelin Pilot Sport 4) can be specified as a no-cost option.
Taking the M Sport model as a basis, it adds specific covers and trim mouldings, side skirt trim and a “ti” badge ahead of the rear wheels in a sporting red color. If the BMW 128ti is ordered with the Melbourne Red or Misano Blue metallic paint finishes, the accents and “ti” badge (which can be deleted, if desired) come in black.
Standard specification in Germany includes extended Shadowline trim with black BMW kidney grille and black mirror caps, while the optional BMW Individual lights Shadowline for the headlights creates a darker appearance, helped by the absence of various chrome trim elements.
The interior also contains a host of red accents, including a large Race Red surface in the backrests of the standard sport seats, the embroidered “ti” badge in the central armrest and contrast stitching in the other armrests, door panels and instrument panels. The steering wheel rim and airbag cover in the M Sport steering wheel feature red stitching.
The BMW 128ti is an interesting move for BMW. For the past two decades the brand has relied on MINI to offer front wheel drive hot hatches for the BMW Group. Now BMW’s getting into the game and charting a new course for the once solely rear wheel drive brand.