When the BMW 128ti first debuted, we immediately thought that BMW might be onto something. The new front-wheel drive 1 Series hatchback is a capable and technically impressive car in all variants but it’s always been a bit boring and a bit too safe, to the point that Audi A3s are more interesting to drive. Especially the BMW M135i which, despite being quick, felt far too digital and numb. So when BMW decided to strip the M135i back, get rid of that pesky xDrive system and fit sharper, model-specific steering, suspension and differential tuning, we were instantly intrigued.
In this new video Joe Achilles drives the all-new, lighter, simpler BMW 128ti to see if it’s actually better than its more powerful, faster, grippier M135i sibling.
On paper, it seems like the BMW 128ti would be worse. It’s only front-wheel drive (heresy to BMW enthusiasts), sports an automatic gearbox and makes less power than the M135i, packing just 261 horsepower versus 302 horsepower. However, the 128ti is lighter, has purer steering, better tuned suspension and a simpler, more engaging attitude. We assumed it’d be better to drive but after seeing this new video, we’re confident it’s the best driving 1 Series there is at the moment.
Achilles seems to have some genuine fun in this new video. On certain stretches of road, he even claims that he doesn’t think he could safely go quicker in his much more powerful BMW M2 Competition. So while it’s only front-wheel drive, the BMW 128ti is a fun little hatchback and can put a smile on your face on any twisty road. In fact, it can do so more than the more powerful M135i, as the 128ti is less safe and it does less for you. It’s a bit shocking to see BMW develop a front-wheel drive hot-hatch but it seems that BMW has done just that.