THE BMW ‘ti’ model designation had been relegated to the history books for more than 20 years.

But now the legend is back – and if you are looking for a hot hatch to rival VW’s Golf or equally tempting alternatives from the likes of Ford, Renault and Toyota then look no further than BMW’s 128ti.

It’s actually quite deceptive because although there are quite garish red details on the outside you will find yourself in a more sedate, beautifully crafted, comfortable environment inside.

The 128ti may have been designed to deliver exceptional driver enjoyment, but it also provides a mostly composed ride as a slow burner in urban settings.

With M Sport specification as standard, it is a worthy new wearer of that ‘ti’ badge. In case you are wondering, those letters stand for Turismo Internatazionale.

The front-wheel-drive model fulfils its sporting promise with such features as a Torsen limited-slip differential, specially tuned M Sport suspension, superb eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission and a 2.0-litre, 265hp engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.

Yes, I thought that might make you sit up and want one.

With an advanced drivetrain that includes the brakes of the flagship BMW M135i xDrive, it also features a sporty exterior and driver-focused luxurious interior that boasts exclusive details to distinguish it from other BMW 1 Series variants. It is also about 80kg lighter than the BMW M135i xDrive because it sends power to the front.

Distinctive front and rear aprons, lurid outer air intakes and side sills containing the ‘ti’ badge are among the features to note. More discreet but equally imposing are the black BMW kidney grille, dual 90mm diameter black chrome tailpipe finishers and the ‘128ti’ badge on the tailgate in chrome.

The 128ti rides on 18-inch M bi-colour light-alloy wheels that are exclusive to the model. A 19-inch alternative is available.

There are red accents throughout the interior, and a red ‘ti’ is stitched into the centre armrest. Even the steering wheel rim and airbag cover of the standard M Sport steering wheel also feature red stitching.

The infotainment features are accessed via a display screen of up to 10.25 inches with the optional BMW Live Cockpit Professional, and I strongly recommend the optional 9.2‑inch head-up display. The load compartment has a capacity of 380 litres, rising to 1,200 litres with the rear seat folded. Riding on specially tuned, bespoke M Sport suspension, the 128ti benefits from increased traction, cornering ability agility and stability through the limited-slip differential.

If the inside wheel loses grip while powering through a bend and the driver accelerates at the same time, the limited-slip differential directs more torque to the wheel with greater grip, thereby preventing wheel slip and enhancing traction and agility.

The engine is a direct offshoot of the BMW Group’s most powerful four-cylinder unit. The 2.0-litre unit produces 265hp, enabling the 128ti to sprint from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and reach a limited top speed of 155mph. Even so, the expected average fuel consumption is between 44 and 46.3mpg.

There’s a maturity about the performance that defies these figures, even though the standard Active Sound Design (ASD) ensures the driver can enjoy a distinctive engine sound in the cabin.

Fast automatic gear changes ensure the highest possible gear is always engaged. Shift paddles on the steering wheel also allow the driver to change gear manually.

But there’s an endearing subtleness to the way this car goes about its business. It’s not as firm as some rivals, and all the better for it. But make no mistake, when it is asked to perform then it will shoot it out with the best of them.

BMW have done the legend proud.

The Lowdown

BMW 128ti

Price: from £32,995

Engine: 2.0-litre twin turbocharged petrol, producing 265bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 6.1 seconds; top speed 155mph

Economy: 44.1 to 46.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 148 to 139g/km

Star Ratings:

Performance: *****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: *****

OVERALL: *****