AUTO NEWS – BMW 128ti vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

BMW 128ti vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

Till now, BMW has by no means actually made a bona-fide scorching hatchback. The magicians from Munich have given us a stream of quick and opulent hatches such because the M135i, the M140i and extra lately the M135i xDrive, all of which have been profitable in their very own particular methods. However by no means a automobile with the purity of function of a real, true-blue scorching hatch. 

Step forwards the brand new 128ti. Powered not by a silky clean six-cylinder engine however, as a substitute, by a extra prosaic 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged unit that’s usually discovered beneath the bonnet of a Mini Cooper, the 128ti represents a refreshing departure from BMW’s present penchant for making vehicles which can be greater, sooner and heavier.

In some ways it’s a back-to-basics sort of automobile, one which comprises a sure stage of tech, sure, however to not the purpose the place it defines the driving expertise. It’s nearly a automobile from yesteryear in that its most important intention is to ship most thrills to whoever is behind the wheel, and who cares if the journey is a bit fruity generally?

As such, there isn’t a button you may press to make the suspension extra comfy if the highway floor will get lumpy. As a substitute you simply climb in, discover how properly the M Sport seat clamps you in place, hearth up and begin driving. Apart from a easy Sport button beside the gearlever, which alters – barely – the response from the throttle, gearbox and steering, you may’t mess with the 128ti’s character when you’ve began driving it, so it’s a take-it-or-leave-it form of automobile on this respect.

In an period of ever-increasing digital sophistication and limitless digital adjustability, this makes the 128ti both an unusually daring and assured transfer on BMW’s behalf, or a whole misfit in 2021. To determine which, we’ve lined it up beside the very newest model of the unique scorching hatchback, the automobile that began all of it 45 years in the past: the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8.

Earlier than we get into our check, listed below are some information and figures, simply so we all know the place each vehicles are coming from financially, dynamically, technologically and so forth. 


  BMW 128ti  Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 TSI DSG
Worth: £33,320 £35,010
Engine:  2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Energy/torque:  261bhp/400Nm  242bhp/370Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed computerized, front-wheel drive Seven-speed dual-clutch computerized, front-wheel drive
0-62mph/prime pace:  6.1 seconds/155mph 6.3 seconds/155mph
Gasoline economic system:  38.2mpg 38.2mpg
CO2/tax: 157g/km/£150 168g/km/£150

The BMW, maybe surprisingly, is the cheaper of the 2 by some margin, at £33,320 versus £35,010 for the VW. It’s additionally the extra highly effective, with 261bhp – the VW’s 2.0-litre turbo-four has ‘solely’ 242bhp – and it has essentially the most torque, too, with 400Nm accessible from 1,750rpm in contrast with 370Nm from 1,600rpm within the VW.

The Golf is a contact lighter than the 128ti, at 1,463kg versus 1,520kg, however the BMW’s power-to-weight ratio continues to be fractionally superior, at 172bhp per tonne in contrast with 165bhp per tonne. So it’s the BMW that boasts the stronger acceleration, simply. 

The 0-62mph dash takes 6.1 seconds within the 128ti, 6.3 seconds within the GTI and each have 155mph prime speeds. In reality, we’re speaking about near-identical efficiency, on paper not less than.

However the VW is significantly better specified inside so it justifies its larger price ticket accordingly, right? Not fairly, as a result of though the VW is certainly impressively outfitted as normal, so is the BMW.

Separating them requires a deep dive into their respective spec lists. In case you then apply a number of fascinating choices – as each producers have within the case of our check vehicles – the VW spirals to a substantial £42,239 as examined, whereas the BMW stays at £35,480 and nonetheless has nearly all the pieces you may want for. This consists of BMW’s wonderful £1,500 Know-how Pack, which provides adaptive  LED lights, a head-up show, a discreet rear spoiler and a reversing digicam, a few of which price additional on the VW.

Crucially, the BMW additionally prices lower than the VW to lease. With a deposit of £2,500 and a yearly restrict of 8,000 miles, over 48 months the 128ti will price you £281 a month, whereas the GTI is £287. 

One choice the VW advantages from, and which the BMW categorically doesn’t, nonetheless, is an electronically adjustable chassis. When VW launched the Mk8 Golf GTI final 12 months, it was largely much like the Mk7 dynamically, aside from one key aspect, stated the engineers: it had a intelligent new Dynamic Chassis Management system. 

It is a £785 choice, true, nevertheless it permits you to do exactly what BMW’s engineers selected to not permit you to do within the 128ti: to regulate the automobile’s dynamic character on the transfer by urgent some buttons. On this case the vary of adjustability within the GTI is spectacular, with no fewer than 15 totally different damper settings to select from when you choose Particular person throughout the drive modes.

So, proper there, you may see the distinction between the best way a recent Golf GTI is supposed to drive, in contrast with the automobile that wishes to steal the icon’s crown. 

Besides, in actuality, they transform remarkably much like each other on the transfer, and so they’re each superb, even if you happen to can in the end modify the VW to be extra comfy, if and when required.  

Initially the BMW feels the extra sporting of the 2, with beefier entrance seats, a thicker steering wheel, plus a extra flamboyant design theme inside and outside. The “ti” decals on its flanks is perhaps a contact doubtful, however all the opposite styling components add a dose of visible magic. In some way the ti manages to look smaller and extra agile than another 1 Collection – and the most recent Golf GTI too.

Then you definately begin driving them correctly and, once more, the BMW feels extra alive. Its journey is immediately busier than the VW’s, even if you happen to put the GTI in Sport, which is quantity 11 within the settings menu (I child you not). 

The 128ti additionally has the sweeter steering, irrespective of how onerous you push it or which of the VW’s settings you choose, with mild however super-precise responses and a stage of really feel by way of the rim that’s missing within the GTI.

Within the VW you all the time know precisely the place its entrance finish is, sure, however there’s by no means fairly the identical pleasure available from inserting it there, and this has as a lot to do with the texture you get from the rear axle when cornering because it does from the entrance. Each vehicles have electronically managed mechanical diffs, and each endure from a whisper of torque steer if you happen to gun them onerous on an uneven floor in a low gear, however neither has a difficulty placing its energy down. Fairly the alternative in contrast with sure rivals at this stage. 

Both approach, the 128ti slices into corners then sits there fantastically when you’re dedicated, and has a precision that the GTI can by no means fairly stage with or replicate, irrespective of which damper mode you select. 

The flipside is that the VW will ship a way more comfy journey on poor surfaces if you happen to dial its dampers again, and for some that will probably be a defining distinction between these vehicles. For others, much less so.

For pure straight-line efficiency, these two are nigh-on unimaginable to separate, objectively. The BMW feels possibly a contact extra energetic between 2,000-4,000rpm in a excessive gear, however in fact they each go each bit as onerous as each other on the transfer. 

They’re fast reasonably than ballistic, leaving area on the prime of their ranges for the extra highly effective, costlier fashions to fill. However in actuality they each have as a lot efficiency as you may want for. Nothing extra, and definitely nothing much less.

However the VW does have two notable benefits up its sleeve right here. One, it makes a greater, louder noise than the BMW, particularly in Sport mode. Two, its seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox has one ratio lower than the BMW’s eight-speed unit, however its shifts are snappier and smoother. It has the higher gearbox.

Does that, plus the superior exhaust be aware and the truth that its digital dampers make it extra refined on rougher roads, imply it’s the higher automobile to drive? No.

Aside from the rest, the BMW hits proper again by being quieter on the motorway (amazingly) and each bit as sensible and roomy because the VW by way of its packaging. Construct high quality is broadly equal too, which says as a lot about how properly made VWs are these days because it does about how mass-market BMW’s high quality attraction has change into. 

However what separates them most of all is the 128ti’s additional dynamic sparkle, its dedication to the reason for actually indulging the driving force. Ultimately it’s only a cracking good automobile to drive. It has a readability of function that’s diluted within the VW. 

Fact is, the GTI has change into one thing of a Jack of all trades because it’s developed over the past 45 years, and a advantageous automobile it has become within the course of. However in selecting to make the 128ti a grasp of some trades, and just some, seemingly with out concern of refusing to compromise in others, BMW has produced a little bit of a masterpiece on this case. Even when the GTI has a barely broader vocabulary.

It appears a misfit may very well be simply what we’d like at this second in time. 

BMW 128ti 

  • For: BMW’s method with the 128ti exhibits it nonetheless is aware of the way to make nice driver’s vehicles, even when that is its most typical providing but.
  • In opposition to  The in-your-face styling and graphics set it aside, however will possible divide opinion; its working window isn’t as broad because the Golf GTI’s both.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

  • For: Volkswagen GTI is a automobile for all events that blends civility with capability. With adaptive suspension the journey is sweet, but it will probably entertain too – plus tech is sweet.
  • In opposition to  You pay a worth for this as a result of it’s additionally costlier than the BMW, nonetheless you purchase. It additionally doesn’t hit the excessive notes just like the 128ti does.


First place: BMW 128ti

BMW’s back-to-basics strategy means the 128ti isn’t the quickest or most refined 1 Collection, nevertheless it’s simply essentially the most enjoyable to drive. The styling touches are largely a hit, even when the decals gained’t be to all tastes. That is the primary true scorching hatch from BMW, and no mistake. 

Second place: Volkswagen Golf GTI

The most recent model of the unique scorching hatch is extra subtle than ever, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a real scorching hatch – one which’s pretty much as good to drive as it’s to dwell with each day. However it’s costly, and lacks the outright focus of extra dedicated rivals, akin to the wonderful 128ti. 

Additionally contemplate…

Ford Focus ST

The newest, 276bhp Focus ST is a powerful return to kind for Ford’s scorching household hatchback, which can be accessible in additional sensible property kind. We just like the six-speed handbook model essentially the most, however similar to the Golf GTI and 128ti, it’s now accessible with an computerized if you happen to’d want.

Honda Civic Kind R

The Honda Civic Kind R has been our favorite scorching hatchback for a while now, and it stands in distinction to the VW and the BMW as a consequence of its extra  raucous nature. The GTI and 128ti stack up properly as fast cross-country cruisers, whereas the 316bhp Honda is for the extra track-minded scorching hatch purchaser.

AUTO NEWS – BMW 128ti vs Volkswagen Golf GTI


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