BMW’s new Volkswagen Golf GTI competitor is a tuned version its 1 Series hatchback. But instead of doing its usual naming tricks, BMW calls it the BMW 128ti, bringing back two little letters reserved only for “particularly sporty” cars.
At least, that’s BMW’s explanation for why the “ti” designation has been missing from its cars for the last two decades. Here’s more info on the new car and its name from Autocar:
It is also the first BMW in more than 20 years to wear the ‘ti’ badge, which, the firm says, is used for “particularly sporty members of a model range”.
The 128ti uses a detuned version of the M-badged car’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, pumping out 194kW and 161Nm for a 0-100km/h time of 6.1sec. That’s 1.3sec down on its more potent sibling but a full second quicker than the standard 120i. The 128ti is capable of 44.1-46.3mpg on the WLTP cycle and emits 139-148g/km of CO2.
I am shocked — shocked! — that this thing is not branded as some sort of M-Sport model or some other new or different arrangement of letters and numbers you just have to remember like any car name. It’s gotten to the point where those letters and numbers actually don’t tell us shit about the car anymore.
The “ti” is a callback to the old BMW 318ti compact model, which was a two-door hatchback version of first the E36 generation 3 Series and later the E46 generation from 1993 through 2004. It was pretty special for being one of the few hatchbacks at the time with a rear-wheel drive powertrain. The “ti” itself stands for “Touring International.” The BMW 2002 got the name twice, also, as the twin-carb Ti in the ’60s and as the injected tii in the ’70s.
While the 318ti didn’t sell very well in America (and was part of BMW’s decision to pull all four-cylinders out of the U.S. for a while), it was a huge hit in Europe. The E46 generation was replaced and renamed as the BMW 1 Series, which the U.S. got as a coupe model. We, unfortunately, will not be getting this new 128ti stateside, at least not this form of it.
But that could be fine. Unlike the old 318ti, the new 128ti is no longer rear-wheel drive, and it’s not even offered with a manual transmission anymore. The company claims the take rate would be less than a third of sales. That still seems worth it, at least in Europe, but I think BMW has become immune to complaints about transmissions by now.
Oh, and if you’re worried about the standard red-coloured accents on the bumpers and around the car, that’s because the M Sport exterior styling package is standard. But they will switch them to black if you buy a red car, so that’s nice.