2021 BMW 128ti test: our opinion behind the wheel

2021 BMW 128ti test: our opinion behind the wheel

Violet Field inHigh TechFeb 23, 2021 7 min read4 views

It's been a long time since we last saw a “ti” badge on a BMW. Here is the sporting name again on the compact Series 1. “Is it worth it?”

It's been a long time since we last saw a “ti” badge on a BMW. Here is the sporting name again on the compact Series 1. “Is it worth it?”

© Supplied by Auto Moto BMW 128ti

It's been a long time since we last saw a “ti” badge on a BMW. Here is the sporting name again on the compact Series 1. “Is it worth it?”

With regard to the general public, this ti label, for Turismo Internazionale , does not have the resonance of a GTi badge . However, the idea is the same: to decline a sporty version of a mass production model.

At the dawn of the seventies, the propeller brand popularized the name with the 2002 Ti . More recently, the 3 Series Compacts, like the 323ti, have used this label again. Here comes the turn of Series 1, under the name 128ti.

This newcomer arrives with its share of paradoxes. It is not the most powerful of the 1 Series and it is a front-wheel drive attraction: it is the first BMW sports car with front-wheel drive .

Sporty, really? This is in any case the wish expressed by the Bavarian firm, and the impression felt after a few accelerations.

Classic in its architecture, with a 2.0-liter turbo , this compact emits a rather exciting sound: it owes it to its exhaust with a valve piloted in the left cannula (and to the sound amplified by the speakers).

The partition can thus vary according to the load on the accelerator and the driving mode engaged. By itself, this aspect contributes to the gently sassy side of the German.

© Provided by Auto Moto BMW 128ti - Laurent Pinel

Its revised suspension, with a ground clearance reduced by 10 mm, shorter and firmer springs , new shock absorbers and an anti-roll bar taken from the M135i, also contribute to the sporting atmosphere.

Impossible, moreover, to choose a controlled damping. But if the stiffness of the cushioning may speed up baby's digestion, it will not spoil the trip of lovers of affirmed compacts.

Driven by its front wheels, the 128ti is directly opposed to the Volkswagen Golf GTi and can, like it, suffer from a lack of traction on wet roads.

But the Bavarian is doing very well thanks to its mechanical Torsen limited slip differential combined with the ARB device ; improved traction control / anti-slip.

No one can defy the laws of physics, but the grip losses are kept short and well managed.

However, the front axle shows a tendency to copy the road, to seek its course on degraded roads . This forces a firm grip on the thick rim of the steering wheel and contributes to the sporty character of the “ti”, giving it a little vintage flavor.

Same observation on the gearbox side: the “one twenty-eight” is systematically adorned with an 8-speed automatic transmission , which at times deserves more promptness. But its small jerks generated during gear changes in sport mode, at high speed, also benefit the sensations.

© Supplied by Auto Moto BMW 128ti

For the latter to become strong, on the other hand, it will be necessary to go out when the road is greasy: there, swaying can move, while the dry roads put forward an engaging direction , but limited agility. The 128ti remains a powerful compact but a bit polished.

In the technical chapter, the four-cylinder taken from the M135i (306 hp) but “deflated” at 265 hp is really efficient.

The 41 cannons left in the stable are partially offset by the 80 kg weight reduction of the 128ti compared to the M135i, due to the abandonment of all-wheel drive.

The times, well served by a constant torque of 400 Nm available from 1,750 to 4,500 rpm, have nothing to envy those of a Golf GTi . But the mechanics lack temperament: the revs remain linear until the approach of the maximum speed.

This does not prevent the Bavarian from taking care of her acceleration, she who has not forgotten, either, to prepare: this Series 1 is quickly identifiable, with specific sills and shields welcoming touches of color. Same treatment on board, where the ti logo is embroidered on the central armrest .

The German is paying dearly for its qualities: € 46,650 minimum . On the other hand, it displays contained CO 2 emissions which benefit from the penalty, which starts at “only” € 1,172. Not bad, for a 265 hp toy ...

BMW 128ti test - our opinion:

It won't be drastic enough for some, too uncomfortable for others. The 128ti version, firmly suspended, is in any case more exciting and more communicative than an M135i.

All while adopting a slightly more assertive presentation, but without giving up its versatility or its rewarding aspects.

© Supplied by Auto Moto BMW 128ti

WE love

  1. Performance and presentation
  2. “Living” direction
  3. Rather nice sound

We like less

  1. Stiff damping
  2. High tariff
  3. Mechanical character

Technical data sheet (BMW 128ti)

  • Motor: forward, transverse, four-cylinder gasoline engine, turbo 16V variable intake, 1998 cm 3
  • Transmission: traction, automatic, 8 speed
  • Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 265 to 4,750
  • Torque (Nm at rpm): 400 to 1,750
  • Empty weight (kg): 1,520
  • Long x wide x high (m): 4.32x1.80x1.43
  • Wheelbase (m): 2.67
  • Turning diameter (m): 11,4
  • Max speed (km / h): 250
  • 0 to 100 km / h (s): 6 ”1
  • Standard tires: 225/40 R 18
  • Test tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4
  • Conso. Mixed WLTP (l / 100 km): 6.8 to 7.1
  • Conso. during test (l / 100 km): 10.6
  • CO 2 (g / km): 157 to 164
  • Malus: € 1,172 to € 1,901
  • Chest at 5 / at 2 (l): 380/1 200
  • Front / rear elbow width (cm): 146/141
  • Rear legroom (cm): 69
  • Country of manufacture: Germany
  • Warranty: 2 years / unlimited mileage
  • Fiscal power: 16 CV
  • Base rate: 46 650 €
  • Price of the tested version: € 57,495


Gasoline, from 109 to 306 hp, from 24,850 € to 52,950 €

Diesel, from 116 to 190 hp, from € 27,600 to € 46,300


  • 40/20/40 files: 210 €
  • Heated steering wheel: 210 €
  • “Hands-free” access: 510 €
  • Electric front seats (driver with memory): € 990
  • Heated front seats: 400 €
  • Leather upholstery: € 1,420
  • Dual-zone automatic air conditioning: € 560
  • Head-up display: 960 €
  • Harman Kardon audio system: € 860
  • Rear spoiler M: 260 €
  • 19-inch alloy wheels: € 660
  • Motorized tailgate: 510 €
  • Panoramic sunroof: € 1,150
  • Metallic paint: 890 €
© Supplied by Auto Moto BMW 128ti


  • Volkswagen Golf GTi, 245 hp, from 43,210 €
  • Mercedes Classe A 250 4MATIC, 224 hp, from 44,750 €
  • Ford Focus ST , 280 hp, from € 36,150

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