BMW 125i, VW Golf GTI Performance Test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW 125i, VW Golf GTI performance in the test
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D he older people will still remember the 1970s, when the VW Golf suddenly went wild and with the abbreviation GTI on the bow and stern blossomed into the hunter of the establishment. Big Opel or Mercedes and of course the BMW 3 Series - they were the preferred sparring partner of this 110 hp and very light underdog. With the first 1 Series in 2004, BMW brought rear-wheel drive into the compact class and established the strong 1 Series as GTI competition. In this sense, the now facelifted second generation of the little Bavaria sees itself as a subtle athlete.

BMW 125i after the revision with new dampers

During the revision, you got a more expressive design and new ones Assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control. Oh yes, almost forgotten (because BMW doesn't say a single word about it in its product information): The little BMW also got new dampers so that it bounces more comfortably than before. Is the 125i, which competes in the comparison test with the Golf GTI Performance in the M-Sport variant, which is sharpened at the front and rear as well as in the interior, therefore under suspicion of wimp? Mild instead of wild? Let's take a look and start the engines.

While the 225i Active Tourer already has the new two-liter four-cylinder turbo with 231 hp under the hood, the 125i still has the old engine with 218 hp. There is still no reason to complain: Very low-vibration, but sounding a little arbitrary because it is radically insulated and damped, the 125i throws its 310 Newton meters into the round very early at 1,350 rpm. The eight-speed automatic sports transmission (2,430 euros) shines with quick gear changes, and often only a glance at the speedometer shows how quickly you are on the move. 6.5 seconds to 100 km /h deserve respect - just like the sensitive reactions to the gas or the ability to quietly and comfortably lace up the motorway at 160 km /h.

VW Golf GTI Performance impresses with its engine

Change to the GTI Performance, which is not only twelve extra horsepower compared to the normal GTI for 1,175 euros more, but also has a larger brake system with red calipers and a front axle differential lock. Clear case of bargain alarm. His two-liter turbo is a real fine guy with an exuberant temperament. When the catapult takes off, the electronics regulate some of the 230 HP and 350Newton meters away to maintain traction - that costs 0.1 seconds up to 100 km /h. But the measured values ​​beyond this brand speak a clear language: The GTI accelerates the 125i mercilessly away, cheekily shows it the rear.

In all of this, the GTI does not mince words. It may rev up with a rumble, when shifting quickly (six-speed DSG: 1,950 euros), it may rumble a bit and even at a constant speed it can fill the interior with light, growling sound. This leaves the impression of higher quality in the details; For example, the corrugated panels in the metal look of the BMW, well, they look Talmi-like - unworthy of a car of this class.

But back to the Golf and its engine: The sound is so animating at changing speeds and when accelerating and when downshifting is also - on long journeys it becomes annoying at some point like a conversation partner who also emphasizes insignificance as strongly as if he was just revealing the last secrets of humanity. In short: For long journeys, the 1 Series is the better, because it is quieter, choice - at least for the driver and front passenger. Because in the second row it is much worse to sit on a thin, hard seat with knees pulled up more than in the Golf. Its rear is also more convenient to reach. And now: Country roads, please!

BMW 125i more comfortable and faster than the GTI

Off the autobahn, into Driver’s Heaven: Country roads appear in the windshields. With curves, inclines and declines. And with potholes, bumps, asphalt patches and everything that the suspension demands. Both the 125i and the GTI compete with adaptive dampers for comparison tests, and it soon becomes clear that the new dampers of the 1 Series actually bring a gain in comfort. The spread between the comfort and sport modes is not very large - sport even appears more pleasant on some bumpy slopes because the rear axle no longer bounces as much. The harmoniously coordinated golf doesn't quite keep up with that.

It tends to play the tight card without slipping into the area of ​​excessive hardness. And: It throws itself cheerfully into the curves, pulls itself through without much slippage, steers in with more feedback than the BMW and allows an extremely cheeky driving style right away. Are you understeering due to front-wheel drive and high front-axle load? Not a trace. The 125i appears nuances more indifferent - also because of its smoother steering - and wobbles a bit on very undulating roads. In the driving dynamics tests on a flat surface, however, it is faster than the Golf.

The Golf GTI wins the award for itself

Both can be animated to slightly break away the stern in order to optimize curve lines. In the extreme, however, the ESP of the BMW intervenes more harshly than that of the VW, occasionally interrupting the flow rigidly when understeer begins. The GTI takesCurves more greedy, animated and amused the driver more directly - but loses eight points in the braking distance measurements due to weakness from higher speeds.

That costs him victory in the property evaluation. The bottom line is that he is ahead by a nose. Above all, the price advantage compared to the M Sport is decisive, and that's where things come full circle. Because that's how it was in the days of the GTI I, when the young wild from Wolfsburg chased the more polished Bayern 3 Series.

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