The BMW 1 Series line-up is set to get a proper rival to the Ford Focus ST, Hyundai i30 N, Renault Megane RS and Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR early next year.

    Previewed overnight with next to no camouflage, the new 2021 BMW 128ti is a new version of the Bavarian marque’s entry-level hatchback – billed as “the new compact sports car”.

    Slotting below the all-wheel drive M135i xDrive much in the same way the Golf GTI sits below the Golf R, the BMW 128ti gets a 195kW 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine driving the front wheels via a Torsen limited-slip differential and an eight-speed sports automatic transmission.

    BMW claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.1 seconds, bolstered by a unique suspension and steering tune to further reinforce the 128ti’s more enthusiast skew.

    Under the skin there’s model-specific M sport suspension which drops the ride height by 10mm, and features BMW Performance Control.

    The steering has been tuned “for precise reactions” to provide even sharper response, and it features the same stabiliser bearing and stabilisers as the M135i xDrive.

    It also borrows the flagship’s M sport brakes to up the stopping power as well.

    Being front-wheel drive, the 128ti is around 80kg lighter than its all-wheel drive M Performance sibling, and sports tyres will be a no-cost option for buyers in Europe.

    In keeping with its “driving pleasure” focus, BMW has honed the new 128ti on the Nurburgring circuit.

    The company adds this new variant “addresses a particularly young target group”, indicating BMW is gunning for a younger demographic that would typically buy a mainstream-branded rival.

    Stay tuned for more BMW 128ti details in the lead-up to its European launch in November, and its Australian release in the first quarter of 2021.

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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