If you haven’t noticed we tend to review new MINIs and BMWs in two phases. The first is at the press launch where we’re invited to drive the cars on predetermined roads and in some cases tracks. While this opportunity is a great way to allow a first drive in the cars before their release, it’s often not enough time to thoroughly review it. Hence the second phase where we get a car for a week for a full test. That means we commute in it, head for the twisties in it and about anything else you can imagine to give us the best information possible for a review.

Last year’s test of the then new r56 on the Dragon was an ideal way to get to know the car and to form some long lasting opinions on it. This year we’ll be testing the Clubman MCS in slightly different circumstances. It’ll be a road trip around the midwest with two to three people with luggage and open road.

After that we’ll be getting a turn behind the wheel of the BMW 135i for an official BimmerFile test (which we’ll link to on MF of course). Our first review of the 135i centered around the manual car – the one most of us would likely be interested in. However this time we thought we’d give the auto a go. The six speed auto in the 135i (and the 335i for that matter) has quickly been called the best conventional torque converter style automatic transmission in the world. Sounds like kind of automatic that just might get a nod of approval from us then. We’ll find out.

But all you manual fans out there don’t need to worry. We’ll be getting a 135i manual sometime later in the year along with potentially a Cooper Clubman (since we’ve had numerous requests for that test as well).