Volkswagen woke up one morning and had to face a new challenger for the Golf GTI all of the sudden. The BMW 128ti came out of nowhere, reviving a highly regarded badge with a front-wheel-drive twist. Some would argue it’s the wrong-wheel drive given the brand’s rich tail-happy history, but enthusiasts can take comfort from knowing the next 2 Series Coupe / M2 will remain faithful to the original formula.
While an acceleration test doesn’t paint the most accurate picture regarding performance, it’s still a good illustration of how zippy a hot hatch can be in a straight line. The folks over at Motorsport Magazine wanted to find out how capable the 128ti is under hard acceleration and hopped behind the wheel of BMW’s first-ever FWD spicy compact.
Gallery: 2021 BMW 128ti
It did the 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.1 seconds, thus perfectly matching the quoted time provided by BMW. If you’re wondering how that time stacks up against its rival from Wolfsburg, it’s a tenth of a second quicker than the GTI equipped with the optional seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The 262-horsepower Bavarian performance hatch has a 20-hp advantage over the Golf GTI, but the latter is also available in a hardcore Clubsport flavor taking output to 296 hp. The DSG-only Golf GTI Clubsport is obviously quicker, needing less than six seconds to complete the sprint. In this video, the 128ti continues its quick run until it reaches 137 mph (220 km/h) after doing the 0-124 mph (0-200 km/h) sprint in 21.9 seconds and the standing kilometer (0.6 miles) in 25.6 seconds.
Good or bad, if you’re wondering about the engine’s sound, you should know some of it is faked. Artificially enhanced noise is pumped through the speakers inside the cabin to enable what BMW refers to as a “thrilling, richly sporting aural experience for the driver.” That said, we’re sure lots of people want automakers to drop the amplified engine soundtrack entirely.
With the 1 Series not offered in the United States, it means the 128ti and the all-wheel-drive M135i hot hatches are not going to be offered in North America. The closest thing to a performance-oriented BMW based on a front-wheel-drive platform is the xDrive-equipped M235i Gran Coupe.