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2021 BMW 128ti detailed: New Hyundai i30 N and Volkswagen Golf GTI rival brings more front-wheel-drive fun to hot-hatch wars

The 128ti will stand out from the 1 Series crowd with its assortment of unique red trim.

BMW has fully detailed its latest hot hatch, the front-wheel-drive 128ti, which is due in Australian showrooms in the first quarter of next year.

With the facelifted Hyundai i30 N and new-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI firmly in its sights, the 128ti is powered by a 195kW/400Nm version of the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine used by its 225kW/450Nm M135i xDrive (all-wheel drive) big brother.

As such, the 128ti splits the pack when it comes to power, with the i30 N and Golf GTI producing 206kW and 180kW respectively, but it bests the former (392Nm) and latter (370Nm) in regard to torque.

Mated to a familiar eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, the 128ti sprints from a standstill to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds, putting it 0.2s behind the i30 N. The Golf GTI is yet to have its performance claims revealed.

(08/10/2020 UPDATE: BMW Australia has confirmed local examples of the 128ti will be detuned to 180kW/380Nm and complete the triple-digit dash in 6.3s)

  • 2021 BMW 128ti 2021 BMW 128ti
  • 2021 BMW 128ti 2021 BMW 128ti
  • 2021 BMW 128ti 2021 BMW 128ti
  • 2021 BMW 128ti 2021 BMW 128ti

The 128ti is fitted with a Torsen limited-slip differential to improve front-end grip during cornering, while handling is also improved by lowered sports suspension (-10mm) and a bespoke steering tune over the regular 1 Series.

Furthermore, the 128ti gets its sports brakes from the M135i xDrive, although its red callipers are a first for any 1 Series variant. A unique set of two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels are also fitted with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres optional.

Speaking of a certain colour, red trim features throughout the 128ti, including on its front air intakes, side skirts, ‘ti’ decals, steering wheel, seats, dashboard, door panels and floor mats.

That said, the exterior accents are black if its optioned with Melbourne Red or Misano Blue paintwork. Either way, the signature ‘kidney’ grille and side-mirror caps are finished in black.

All in all, the 128ti weighs about 80kg lighter than the M135i xDrive, so it could very well prove to be the better drive of the two. Of course, time will tell.

Expect BMW Australia to release pricing and full specification details for the 128ti closer to its local launch. For reference, the M135i xDrive is priced from $63,900 plus on-road costs in entry-level Pure form, so expect it to cost less than that.