BMW has confirmed that it will be introducing its first ever front-wheel-drive hot hatch later this year that will take direct aim at the Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI.

In publishing images of the prototype 128ti undergoing testing at the Nürburgring, the BMW Blog claims that the newcomer will retain the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, albeit powered down from 225kW/450Nm in the all-wheel-drive M135i, to 195kW/400Nm.

Fitted with a mechanical limited slip differential, an M Sport suspension that has resulted in a 10 mm ride height drop, adjustable steering and M Sport brakes, the lighter, by 80 kg, 128ti will reportedly accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.2 seconds, 2.6 seconds slower than the M135i, and hit the electronic speed limiter at 250 km/h. Unlike the GTi though, a manual gearbox won't be offered as the only option will be the sports-tuned eight-speed Steptronic.

BMW confirms first ever front-wheel-drive hot hatch poised to take-on Golf GTI

"We wanted to make the car as active as possible and create a basis that is even more neutral in its basic balance than the existing 1 Series. The goal was not to create a racing car that would only drive the fastest lap on the ring. We wanted to build a car that is fun on the country road, that gives direct feedback and that the driver can play with," BMW Driving Dynamics Project Manager, Andreas Strumm, was quoted as saying.

As evident by images, the 128ti is largely unchanged from the M135i with the prototype being mostly disguise free apart from the removal of the BMW badge on the grille and tailgate, the presence of the white-and-black circle camouflage wrapping on the outside of the vents on the flanks of the front and rear bumpers, and covered 128ti badge on the tailgate. Production will reportedly commence in November with pricing still unknown.

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