BMW have now brought back the TI badge for their relatively new 1-series. It’s clear we aren’t going to see a full blown M version of the 1-series like we did with the 2011 1-series M, and the 128ti will actually slot above the 120i and beneath the range topping M135i xDrive. Clearly the target is the Golf GTi and hopefully the price is competitive as well.
The Turismo Internazionale (TI) badge is an important one for BMW, designating the model as a sporting edition. This was used long before there was any M-division and started in the 1960s with the 1800 TI and 2002 TI, both much celebrated today as classic cars, and then seen again in the 1990s with the 323ti Compact and 325ti Compact.
BMW say driving is at the heart of the 128ti but that should really be the case for every BMW. Reading between the lines, this is more about dynamics than the big straight line speeds and huge power figures the M3 and M4 execute so well.
It may not be an M model but it still benefits from M parts such as M Sport suspension which lowers the car by 10 millimetres, a Torsen limited-slip differential, and a bespoke steering application while stiffer springs and shock absorbers keep the car planted.
Some of the M135i xDrive goodies are also found on the 128ti such as firmer anti-roll bars and anti-roll bar mounts with high preload. The 2.0-litre engine is also a variant derived from the M135i xDrive producing 195 kW (265 hp). Also shared is the M Sport braking system with red-painted brake callipers but what is unique to the 128ti are the 18-inch Y‑spoke 553 M bi-colour light-alloy wheels. The 128ti also loses 80kg of weight over the M135i xDrive which will make a huge difference to the dynamics.
There’s no manual transmission option but what you do get is BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission instead. Let’s just move on shall we!
There are some TI touches with the side skirt trim and a “ti” badge ahead of the rear wheels and if ordered with Melbourne Red or Misano Blue metallic paint those colour accents become black, however if you’re not into colour accents they can be deleted.
Inside there are hints of red everywhere reminding you this is a TI model with embroidered “ti” badge in the central armrest and contrast stitching in the other armrests, door panels and instrument panels, and M Sport steering wheel rim which is looking thicker than ever.
Given the 118i retails for around $43,000 AUD plus on road costs, and the BMW M135i retails somewhere around $64,000 AUD plus on road costs, it’s likely the 128ti price will start with a “5” in Australia.