Look out, GTI! New BMW 128ti officially touches down in South Africa…

The new BMW 128ti has officially touched down in South Africa, with the market launch set to take place in March 2021.

As we pointed out when we were the first to publish local pricing, the 128ti will start at R687 418. Of course, various options will be available for the fresh-faced, front-driven hot hatch, which we’ve detailed here.

It’ll be interesting, though, to see where the 128ti’s price puts it in relation to the incoming Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI, which the Munich-based firm is clearly targeting. With the new Golf 8 GTI not yet on local roads, the only Golf 7 still offered in SA is the 213 kW limited-edition TCR, currently listed at R689 200. It’s worth noting that before the standard Golf 7 GTI left the local market, it was priced from R620 300.

As a reminder, new 128ti has been detuned for the local market, with its peak power output dropping from the 195 kW offered in Europe to a Golf 8 GTI-matching 180 kW. That “ti” badge, for the record, stretches back to 1963 and stands for “Turismo Internazionale”.

The turbocharged 2,0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine – itself detuned from the 225 kW unit in the M135i xDrive – will generate 180 kW (between 5 000 and 6 500 r/min) and 380 N.m (from 1 500 to 4 400 r/min) in SA-spec form. The listed top speed is 243 km/h, while the 0-100 km/h sprint time comes in at 6,3 seconds. An eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission with paddle shifters is the only gearbox option.

The German firm describes the newcomer as an “unfiltered driving machine”, which ships standard with M Sport suspension, a Torsen limited-slip differential and a bespoke steering application.

The 128ti furthermore carries over the firmer anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts with high preload from the all-paw M135i xDrive. Stiffer springs and shock absorbers have also been added, while the front-driven model is “around 80 kg lighter” than the flagship M Performance model.

Other highlights include the M Sport braking system (with red-painted brake callipers) and 18-inch Y‑spoke 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels. Interestingly, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres can be specified as a no-cost option.

Based on the M Sport package, the 128ti furthermore gains specific trim mouldings, side skirt trim and a “ti” badge ahead of the rear wheels in red. If the hot hatch is ordered with the Melbourne Red or Misano Blue metallic paint finishes, the accents and “ti” badge (which BMW has confirmed can be deleted, if desired) come in black.

Article written by

Ryan Bubear

Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.