Tag: Hothatch

Is The New BMW 128ti The Right 1?

BMW has high hopes for their Golf GTI rivaling 128ti. Alex Shahini was at the launch in Johannesburg

Accessibility for a new, engaging and versatile car to drive can often leave consumers underwhelmed if it weren’t for the hot hatch segment. Churning out aggressively overstated and more rewarding runabout variants to their standard siblings, they have become the staple of young drivers enjoying exciting performance with the benefit of mass produced affordability. 

While the now defunct French 1973 Simca 1100TI can be given the credits of being the first traditional hot hatch, the one we all know and share a fascination towards was the Giugiaro-penned MK1 VW Golf GTI, debuting two years later. While half a century can separate us between those pioneering, fun filled vehicles – the recipe remains unchanged: take a mundane hatchback in the brand lineup, spice up performance, increase power ratings, throw in a few exciting looking exterior bits and make the cockpit feel like a boy racers dream. The new kid on the block, the BMW 128ti does exactly that and it is aiming straight down the barrel with the MK8 GTI squarely in its sights. 

It is worth noting that this is the Bavarian marque’s first real attempt at the hot hatch market. While we are in the midst of the hyper hatchback showdown, which BMW has previously dabbled in, they have never developed a typical hot hatch in the sense described previously. This has not been stated to downplay any shortfalls the 128ti may have but to also contextualize how BMW may have leapfrogged the competition. So, is it any good? 

Using the existing 1 Series bodywork and chassis as a starting point, the styling has transcended the soft looking F40 (not the Ferrari) generation into something that seems more potent and aggressive. While the new variant has lost some of the butch proportions of the F20/21 gen, it has improved in boot capacity (380l) and interior volume compliments of the transversally laid out 3 or 4-cylinder engines available in the range. 

While a colour blind person would struggle to find the differences between the 128ti and 118i M Sport Package, subtleties help to differentiate them. Red is the name of the game and it dominates details of both the exterior and interior. The 128ti decal at the bottom of the rear quarter panel, the front and rear bumper aero ducts are visually connected by a low slung side skirt, while the M-sport brake calipers are finished in the same shade of vermillion. Models specced in Melbourne Red or Misano Blue will lose these above mentioned exterior details by default. The rear end is completed with the same twin-exit diffuser found on the M135i. 


The sport cabin is comfortable and spacious, detailed with the same exterior red stitched onto the dashboard, seats and floor mats while the ‘ti’ moniker is boldly embroidered onto the centre storage armrest. The M sport colours exist in the form of a subtle line down each of the seatbelts. While the red detailing is abundant, it is chiefly there to signify that the 128ti is not simply another engine variant slotted between the 118i and xDrive M135i. It is there to reinvigorate the previously historic turizmo internazionale (ti) name first demonstrated on the classic 1960’s lines of the 2002ti. By doing so, BMW have seized the opportunity to create an attainable cult classic. 

While on the topic, the 2002ti was a machine suitable for the driving purist of the era, making use of the 02 platform to create something sportier and more engaging. The new iteration does the same, shedding 80 kilograms of weight from the M135i, incorporating a mechanical diff and doing away with xDrive and adaptive suspension. It has a more visceral and engaging sensation behind the wheel because of this, with distinctly firm steering and torque steer in sports mode while an adequately comfortable ride on the standard 18” rims without. The 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo motor is detuned from the 135i to a respectable 180kW and 380Nm, sufficient on its FWD platform. The maximum torque output is available from as low as 1500 rpm while the 8-speed Steptronic sport transmission has violently appealing (to the boyracer in me) gear shifts in sport mode.

The traction control can annoyingly inhibit some of the torque and bog power in the lower gears, disengaging the ESC allows the mechanical diff to make easy work of sharp corners, with a dash of wheel spin going into 2nd and 3rd gear – enough to put a smile on the face. There are a few pitfalls, including a noisy radiator fan, visible exhaust backbox and the fact that BMW missed the opportunity to incorporate more of the original ti’s cues but the overall package remains good enough to take on the likes of the GTI and i30N.
While the newly released M135i completely missed the mark of the previous generations legacy (view the Nwamba brothers honest critique at the link), the 128ti with its competitive base price of R687 418 may just be the right 1.

A True Hot Hatch – Hyundai i30 N

We Drive the Hyundai i30 N

Rewind your mind to a little over a year ago. If someone told you that Hyundai are planning to release a hot hatch, but not just any hot hatch, a hot hatch that would bring the fight to every one of the great hatches we know and love, would you have believed them? Probably not. Welcome the Hyundai i30 N.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Hyundai i30 N on a abend

You see, performance hatches and Hyundai have never really belonged in the same sentence together, it’s kind of like Ben and Jerrys offering a zero-sugar ice-cream, one would think it’s going to be a bit “pap”.

However, Hyundai have been clever and found themselves a person who knows the in’s and out’s of this performancy kind of stuff. His name is Albert Biermann and he once headed up the BMW M Performance division. This is quite a statement from Hyundai, so how does the i3o N fair?

It Means Business

Glare at the Hyundai i30 N and you will get a deathly stare back, it looks mean from every angle. Sitting low, the artic blue paint reminds me that this colour has been discontinued, which means we needed to stay far away from bushes, curbs and anything untoward that could cause damage. My favourite angle? The rear. Its small wing and diffuser complement the wide stance, dual tailpipes and bright rear lights nicely. Hyundai are not playing around.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Rear light of the Hyundai i30 N

For those who don’t know, you may think it’s all show and no go, however, if you are even just so slightly interested in cars you will know that this is not the case.  285bhp (202kW)  and 400Nm on tap means theHyundai i30 N already shows the Golf GTI it’s mother on paper, but what about on the road?

What is it like to drive?

For me, a great hot hatch is one that makes you smile. After all, they are built to be fun right? A mixture of performance, response, chassis and sound are all major components they make up the perfect hatch. Quite frankly, the Hyundai i30 N delivers in all departments.

The wave of boost that hits in the lower RPM range Is addictive. I love the surge of power and boost that kicks in and doesn’t ever seem to fade out. Coupled with the heavy clutch and clunky, solid gearbox, the feeling can only be described as real. No other hot hatch sounds like this, the crackle and pops produced literally makes people walking on the side of the road to stop, turn around and put their hands in the air – sorry love, this is straight from the manufacturer.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Hyundai i30 N on a racetrack

The i30N also lives up to its nickname “Corner Rascal” . I was going to say the front end is to die for, but that’s probably an overstatement. It is wonderfully sharp and grippy and when partnered with the balanced chassis and limited slip diff, you’d have to be doing something wild to find understeer.  Hyundai didn’t lie when they told us this car is measured in BPM and not RPM – it really does get the blood pumping. Did I mention the noise?

A choice of 5 driving modes are available, you know, the usual Eco, Comfort, Sport that seem to come on most new vehicles nowadays, but, If you want to get straight to the main action then a simple press of the blue N button on the steering wheel will do the trick – I wonder what this is similar too, it’s at the back of my mind and I just can’t remember…

Steering Wheel of the Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Steering Wheel of the Hyundai i30 N

I digress,  The N will activate everything and anything that brings out the dark side of the Hyundai i30 N’s personality. Hit it again, and the system activates your custom N settings which are programmed through the main interface.  You will probably use this if you’re fussy like Richard, as he likes everything in sport apart from steering feel which MUST stay in comfort – lame.

Technology in the i30 N

I was quite taken aback when I found technology such as wireless charging, autonomous emergency braking, collision warning and a lane keep assist technology which works much more like semi-autonomous driving.  Rev matching is also a treat, making downshifts much more pleasant as well as sounding fantastic. If you’ve been driving long enough though, you can turn this off from the steering wheel and work your magic with the old heel and toe situation. Of course, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are also thrown into the mix to end of a great bunch of tech.

Hyundai i30 N Interior South Africa

Hyundai i30 N Interior

Does it lack anything?

Dampers. It lacks dampers. Yes, the ride is particularly firm but in all seriousness, it doesn’t really lack anything. You have everything you need and more in terms of tech and performance. If you are going to compare this against a Golf or other German hatchbacks, then it won’t give you the same premium feel and trims. It’s more plastically, and obviously not as comfortable. If your looking for a fast hatch which isn’t going to break your back then this probably isn’t the hatch for you. It’s not going to be great if you undertake a long commute on a daily basis either, but if you are looking for true hot hatch experience then you won’t go wrong with the Hyundai i30 N.

Hyundai i30 N South Africa

Sam Ayres with the Hyundai i30 N

How does it compare to other hatches?

I’ve not driven every hot hatch ever made, and there are a few new models that I still need to get behind the wheel of, such as the Megane R.S. However, from what I have driven, it definitely provides one of the rawest, fun and visceral driving experiences. I have spent many hours and corners behind the wheel of a GTI Clubsport, they both feature very positive front ends and similar driving traits, however, the Clubsport is DSG – which leads me onto think that a Clubsport S with a manual box, reduction in weight and increase in more power might just result in a driving experience that pips the i30N.  Either way,  I’m just going to have to wait to find out.

Learn More: https://www.hyundai.co.uk/new-cars/i30n