First, it claims that uptake will be low, possibly less than a third of sales. Second, the emission targets require long gearing for the six-speed manual, where the extra two cogs lower ratio can be effectively turned off effectively for puncture acceleration. So as it stands, the 128ti comes with an engine tune, a gearbox and simply idle suspension.
And it is the chassis in which that suspension forms an integral part which is the most interesting part of the puzzle. Our short drive on the roads around Nurburing clears one thing, the 128 is more attractive and interesting in comfort than its cycled drive M135i rangemate.
I can’t speak for its most obvious rival, as I haven’t driven the MK8 Golf GTI yet, but the BMW Civic Type R feels more mobile and fluid than the wide operating system, but not the perfect player like the Focus ST, which is the development team. Enjoyed driving while benchmarking. Overall it feels a lot like you would want to feel a BMW hot hatch, fast but compact and with a good degree of throttle-adjustability. Which is a relief.
As for how this happens, there is a combination of factors. In an effort to reduce underside and improve turn-in, the underbody braking found on the front of the M135i has been chalked up and the toe-in degree of the foot at the four corners has been reduced. The springs are also quite stiff (about 8%) and the compression-damp rate is high, and the power distribution has changed drastically, moving backwards.
Some of the workers involved – speaking at a BMW development workshop in the village of Nবুrburg – explained that the measures initially made a car very alert and responsive. Very ‘obviously’, openly so the steering speed has been slightly reduced compared to the M135i. Without the stability of the powered rear axle, the locking ratio of the torso differential has dropped from 38% to 31% for 128.
At ground level, BMW then went to Michelin’s Pilot Sport for 4 tires, which is less aggressive than most cars in this class and will further prove that raw speed is not the goal here. However, LSD is still a powerful force during hard cornering – or at least it seems so. BMW’s EPAS rack can now predict torque-steer and apply counter-torque if necessary, so it’s not easy to tell how consistently the differential is actually working, even the net effect is very effective.