Currently the 155kW front-wheel drive Golf GTI is the hot hatch benchmark. Sure, there may be some cars that are sharper, the Renaultsport Megane RS, for example. And some are more extreme; see the Ford Focus RS. But none provide the all-round finesse of the GTI.
BMW, a surprisingly new player to the niche, hopes its new 125i can tempt buyers south from Wolfsburg down to Munich. Officially, the 125i is yet to be signed off by BMW Australia, but we’ve received a tip that not only confirms the car is coming, but names the price as well: $45,700 plus on roads. That figure seems about right when compared to the rest of the Australian 1 Series pricing. It also makes the 125i over five grand more than the list price of a GTI.
But there’s options, too, and for
around $6000 $5385 you can add the M Sport kit; sure to be inspired by the 1 Series Performance Studie you see here. Perhaps of more merit, or at least certainly a lot cheaper, is the chance to option an upgraded brake package from factory for just $1000 more (this can only be optioned in conjunction with the M Sport package, see details below).
What about the basics of the 125i; what will the it offer that a GTI can’t? As noted the GTI has 155kW from its smooth 2.0 litre turbocharged four cylinder. That’s coupled by a healthy 280Nm of torque. The 125i beats that, just, with its 160kW/310Nm, also from a 2.0 litre turbo four. Thanks to a twin-scroll turbo that torque is all yours from 1350rpm as well. Sounds good, what else?
Well, the GTI is front-wheel drive and has been that way since its inception over 35 years ago. Volkswagen has pretty well nailed the FWD format. But the 125i is rear-wheel drive; acknowledged as a more pure method of getting power down. According to the spec sheets the kerbweight of both models is neck and neck (125i 1345kg, GTI 1360kg). It makes for a fascinating comparison.
We’re not sure about you, but we think the GTI has it over the BMW 1 Series in terms of looks. Although, Renault has proved hot hatch excellence need not be pretty to look at, so maybe the look of the F20 1er won’t bother hot hatch fans.
A genuine RWD hot hatch is something new to consider and will give the BMW 125i a bona fide difference in the current day market. Will its unique layout, premium brand and driving experience be enough to knock the ageing Mk6 GTI off its perch?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
UPDATE: The price mentioned above has been confirmed by unofficial sources and further leaked details revealing more about the 125i can be read below. Of most note, the 125i will be available from March 2012 production. Valencia Orange, previously a colour unique to the 1M, will also be available. As far as specs go the 125i is based on the 118i, with a few extra goodies as listed below. And, last but not least, keen observers will also note the 116i pricing.