Just over a month after the facelifted BMW i8 Coupé was launched in Malaysia, it’s now time for the debut of its open-top sibling, the i8 Roadster. The plug-in hybrid sports car is pretty much the same as it has always been, but now indulges the owner in a bit of alfresco driving.

Priced at RM1,508,800 on-the-road without insurance, the i8 Roadster is a whole RM100,000 more expensive than the Coupé. The price includes the new sales and service tax as well as a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, five years’ free service and a two-year tyre warranty.

On the outside, the Roadster retains the futuristic swooping, low-slung design of the Coupé – including the eye-catching dihedral doors – but with the addition of a fabric roof that folds away electrically in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h.

You can tell the model apart from the hardtop through silver panels on the C-pillar, equipped with Roadster badging. Only one colour is offered here, and it’s the hero colour E-Copper, with matte grey accents and a matching Accaro interior colour scheme, plus dry carbon interior trim. The wheels are 20-inch W-spoke style 470 alloys, similar to the pre-facelift i8.

As usual, the i8 Roadster features a carbon fibre monocoque over an aluminium frame, which means that despite the fitment of a folding roof mechanism and additional strengthening struts and panels around the axles, the soft-top model is only 60 kg heavier than the hardtop, bringing the total kerb weight to 1,595 kg.

You do lose the token rear seats of the Coupé, instead gaining 92 litres in storage space behind the front seats. That’s quite a lot, considering that the boot behind the mid-mounted engine measures just 88 litres – and there’s no boot to speak of at all in the front.

Speaking of the engine, the Roadster continues the use of a 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine from the 318i, here boosted to 231 hp and 320 Nm of torque. All that is sent to the rear wheels through an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission.

Like the new Coupé, the Roadster benefits from a new, more powerful electric motor at the front, which produces 12 hp more at 143 hp and continues to be paired to a two-speed gearbox. Total system output now stands at 374 hp, enabling the car to sprint to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds (0.2 seconds slower than the Coupé).

The battery is also more energy dense with an increased cell capacity (34 Ah, up from 20 Ah) and higher gross energy capacity (11.6 kWh, up from 7.1 kWh). As a result, all-electric range has seen a 50% jump over the previous i8, from 35 km to 53 km. Fuel consumption is rated at 2.0 litres per 100 km on the NEDC cycle.

The i8 Roadster is equipped with a 3.6 kW onboard charger, so charging the car to full takes under three hours through a 16-ampere/230-volt outlet. With a 10-ampere/230-volt domestic power socket, this increases to under four and a half hours.

In terms of kit, the Roadster is identical to the Coupé and incorporates LED headlights with high beam assist, keyless entry, push-button start, power-adjustable seats with driver’s side memory, a head-up display, dual-zone auto climate control and a 360-degree camera.

In terms of infotainment, the Roadster gets a Professional navigation system with an 8.8-inch touchscreen and a 600-watt Harman Kardon surround sound system. Safety-wise, the Driving Assistant system with Collision and Pedestrian Warning and City Braking (autonomous emergency braking) is standard.