Using facts and figures to explain the BMW 128ti’s strengths and weaknesses

Delving into the Sports Car of the Year data offers up interesting answers


Data doesn’t lie. There’s nowhere to escape or hide. However, it can also affirm sensations and deficiencies felt in the car while on track. And thanks to the detailed analysis gathered at Phillip Island by the VBOX team at PCOTY, we’re able to break down one of the causes of concern the judges held in regard to the BMW 128ti.

Let’s just stamp out one notion from the get-go. The BMW 128ti is fast in a straight line. Compared to its biggest rival, the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Bavarian’s turbo 2.0-litre four-pot has the grunt and traction to match its foe. A 0-100km/h time of 6.27 seconds is a mere 0.06sec away, while 400m is covered 14.33sec, just 0.02sec off the Golf – so virtually nothing.

The weaker top-end of the B48 sees the EA888-powered GTI pull away with a 5.6km/h higher top speed down Gardner Straight.

PCOTY 2022 BMW 128 Ti Body

According to the straight-line numbers, it’s pretty much neck-and-neck. Our gun racing driver, Warren Luff, also uncovered loads of confidence under brakes, with the BMW arriving at the Southern Loop apex 15km/h faster than the VW. What’s more, the 128ti is 6km/h faster into the braking zone for Honda and 5km/h faster through the apex of Siberia and MG. So how does the GTI lap Phillip Island 2.4sec faster than the 128ti?

It’s largely down to a lack of traction and grip on corner exit, with the BMW losing all its time past the corner apex compared to the venerable VW. That 15km/h advantage on entry at Southern Loop turns into a 12km/h deficit on corner exit with the front axle struggling to harness the 180kW despite running a mechanical LSD and performance-orientated 225-section Pirelli P Zero tyres (although you can spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber, which we’d advise).

It’s also interesting to use the VBOX data to dissect the different lines Luffy uses to try and work with and around the different attributes and deficiencies. Despite struggling past the apex, the 128ti is stable under brakes which allows for a later mid-point. Essentially, Luffy is trying to square off the corner so that the 128ti is accelerating with the least amount of lock possible.

A Brook 220131 PCOTY 2022 BMW 128 Ti 13

It’s all about the front 18-inch hoops doing less at once and not overwhelming the front axle. For instance, a much tighter line than the GTI is used out of Honda, with no drifting to the outside kerb, so that traction can be gained in a straight line.

On long-radius corners where squaring off doesn’t really work, the 128ti struggles. Exiting Lukey Heights, a section where the outside front is heavily loaded for a long period of time, the BMW is 13km/h down on the GTI. Through Southern Loop the BMW drifts out to a much wider line than the VW, with the GTI’s sorted front end allowing it to hug the apex much tighter than the BMW.

Ultimately, the track time and data gleaned from it shows that there is promise in the BMW 128ti platform. All the judges remarked that it was more fun on track than they’d expected, with a strong straight-line turn of pace impressing. Harnessing that and putting it to the ground is the next frontier.

Trent Giunco
Ellen Dewar
Cristian Brunelli
Alastair Brook


Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.