Pocket rocket BMW ti is back!

A real sporty blast from the past
The BMW 128ti

The BMW 128ti

Robbie Farrell

BMW – 128ti

German premium brand BMW is turning back the hands of ti-me with one of its latest models to roll off the production line – the 128ti

It has been almost 20 years since the famous badge was last seen on a Beemer, yet some office gurus over in BMW HQ have decided to bring back the little pocket rocket.

The character profile of the BMW 128ti makes it the perfect car to breathe new life into a long tradition at BMW. Since the 1960s the “TI” (later “ti”) badge has stood for “Turismo Internazionale”, marking out particularly sporty members of a model range.

The successful history of the TI models began in 1963 with the BMW 1800 TI and reached its first major pinnacle in the form of the two-door BMW 2002 TI.

So what exactly is this new 128ti you may ask? Well, it seems to be a bit of a competition between the engineers in BMW’s famous ‘M’ sports division and their counterparts over in the run-of-the-mill factory.

The 128ti is basically an ‘M’ car alternative from the other side of the HQ. It’s what happens when a bunch of engineers get their hands on an M135i and stick two fingers up to lads over in the ‘M’ division, by claiming they can make an even better sports car.

Going against its usual rear-wheel drive policy, the engineers over in HQ have ditched the xDrive all-wheel-drive system from the M135i and made it a front-wheel drive system.

By doing this they have made a weight saving of 80kgs, instantly making the 128ti much lighter.

Although the two cars share the same eight-speed automatic gearbox, the 128ti has been fitted with a Torsen limited-slip differential for the front axle.

The engineers have also done some wonderful work on the suspension and a new steering set-up that gives it an even more go-kart like driving experience.

Power is from a similar, yet slightly tweaked, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, which produces 261bhp.

Other most noticeable differences are the massive red brake calipers and 18-inch alloy wheels.

On the outside, there are many distinguishing features that give the BMW 128ti a distinctive appearance.

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 colour.

On the inside, 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.

On the road, the 128ti is superb to drive. It takes on the likes of the Volkswagen GTI and GR Yaris and possibly trumps them for me. Maybe it is a bit of a neck-and-neck race with the GTI if I am to be honest. Prices for the new 128ti start from €44,585, which comes in slightly cheaper than the Golf GTI, which starts at €49,725. Think I would just possibly have the Beemer and save the €5k.


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