BMW has managed to steal its own thunder. The return of the ‘ti’ badge after a two-decade absence is a big story, and although the car that brings about this comeback - the 128ti - is only just being revealed, we know pretty much everything about it.
We learned most of the key details from a press release sent out a few weeks ago, and our colleagues at Auto Express have already driven a 128ti prototype. This is our first chance to see the car sans camouflage, though, and we now know how much it costs: £32,995.
This means the ‘Turismo Internazionale’ undercuts the VW Golf GTI - its main rival - by £465. That jumps to £2000 if you’re comparing to a Golf GTI with a DSG ‘box, which we probably should do since the 128ti has an automatic gearbox as standard. You’re forced to have a slushbox whether you like it or not, though - there’s no manual option.
The 128ti is also well over £4000 cheaper than the oddly dull M135i, and - as the all-wheel drive system has been ditched - 80kg lighter. It uses the same 2.0-litre inline-four ‘B48’ engine, but in a lower state of tune - it produces 261bhp and 295lb ft of torque, down from 302bhp and 332lb ft of torque.
All of that makes its way to the front wheels via a Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential. Hook it up well enough off the line, and 0-62mph is possible in 6.1 seconds, while the top speed is the usual 155mph electronically-limited deal.
To sharpen up the handling relative to the rest of the front-driving 1-series range, the 128ti benefits from beefed-up anti-roll bars from the M135i, along with stiffer springs and shocks. It sits 10mm lower on 18-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels, which can be wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres at no extra cost.
To go with the wheels, you get black kidney grilles, black 90mm twin tailpipes, ti sill badges, front bumper ‘air curtains’ pinched from the M135i and contrasting sill paint. The latter two elements are finished in red unless you order your 128ti in Melbourne Red or Misano Blue, in which case the air curtains are black and the lower sill sections are body-coloured. It’s also possible to delete the contrasting stuff and the ti badges if you’d prefer.
There are further splashes of red on the inside, where you’ll find ‘Sensatec’ fabric seats and the ti logo stitched onto the centre armrest. Heated seats and ambient lighting are fitted as standard.