The Mini Clubman is a solid choice for anyone who needs a versatile loading set-up, with cargo space that goes from 360 litres to 1,250 litres with the seats down.
Mini Clubman's facelift affords style for miles A nip and tuck refreshes the spacious Mini Clubman to keep it stylish PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN

You would be hard-pressed to tell the facelifted Mini Clubman from the older one unless you squint really, really hard.

Subtle as the changes might be, they add up to a more complete and interesting product - one that leads with style in a world where cars look more homogeneous by the day.

The Clubman remains a solid choice for anyone who needs a versatile loading set-up and, let's face it, some bragging rights as it is the only six-door passenger car in town.

To freshen things up, Mini has come up with three new metallic paint choices: Indian Summer Red, British Racing Green and Mini Yours Enigmatic Black.

The red, which the test car came in, is easily the most striking of the three.

The front of the car is where the Clubman has had the most tweaks.

The radiator grille now extends downwards and dominates the whole bumper, where it was previously split by a black plastic part.

On the Cooper S variant tested, the hexagonal-style grille looks handsome, with a red "S" at the corner giving a splash of colour.

Its LED headlights get piano-black gloss surrounds. These and the foglamps are adorned with light rings inside.

Another minor change is to the door mirrors, which are now more contoured compared with their previous rounded shape.

The rear tail-lights get a new design, sprucing up the Clubman's rear and giving it a very distinctive night signature.

Inside, nappa leather adorns the steering wheel and seats - which get a Union Jack motif on the headrests - while changeable interior lighting accents round off a cabin that is like no other.

Cargo space, the Clubman's party piece, goes from a usable 360 litres to a whopping 1,250 litres with the seats down.

It is still a modern Mini cabin, ergonomic and sensible, with the toggle buttons and huge central display adding a touch of cheekiness.

Mini, unfortunately, still has not reversed the direction of the rotary knob for right-hand-drive markets. You still have to rotate it counter-clockwise - unintuitively - to scroll through menus on the infotainment screen.

Despite the Clubman's run-flat tyres, it has a rather serene ride quality.

Even when you hit a speed bump, the Clubman soaks it up and cocoons you in a dulcet ride that is just the right shade of pliant.

Its 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine remains unchanged with 192hp and 280Nm of torque, and it plays a big part in the Clubman's sprightly and effervescent nature.

Under heavy acceleration, its hushed burble is delightful too.

With well-weighted steering and snappy gear changes from the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Clubman is an eager beaver on the road.

But it has enough balance from its well-tuned suspension to prevent passengers from going queasy.

There is some torque steer if you bury your right foot, but tone things down and it becomes a capable grand tourer.

At $157,888, the Clubman is priced similarly as a BMW 2-series Gran Tourer, with which it shares mechanical bits.

Given the oodles of style and character from the Mini, I know which I would rather have.