GEOCON High Society Masthead

BMW Drive Day

Drew Baker and Amanda Whitley

The ultimate way to test drive a car!

BMW.  The brand normally conjures up images of black sports sedans driven by business men in a rush. In Mr HerCanberra’s case that’s true – he has a black BMW sedan and wears a suit every day (no comment on rushing to meetings) so fits the cliché pretty well!

However, in 2015 the reality is that over 50% of all BMWs global sales are now are the ‘X series’ vehicles, in other words SUVs, with an even higher proportion here in Canberra.

When Rolfe Classic BMW invited us to a drive day it was the perfect opportunity – I could test out the new X1, BMW’s latest entry and most cost-effective SUV to date. Meanwhile Mr HerCanberra (let’s call him Drew…cos, you know, that’s his name) could try the new 3series, the classic sports sedan.

This was my first ‘drive day’ but I’d heard Drew rabbit on about the ones he’d previously been on, so I had a bit of an idea about what was in store. Basically, a drive day is a chance to test drive the cars all over Canberra, swapping between different cars and testing out each model without any pressure. Our drive day started and finished with food at Pialligo Estate’s Garden Pavilions, which I was looking forward to almost as much as the cars…because I really like food.

Her – the BMW X1

I’m not really someone that gets hugely excited about cars. Drew pretty much looks after my car, whether that be washing it or complaining about the mess the kids make it in the back (because he’s nice like that…nothing to do with him having OCD…nooooo). Having said that, after driving a BMW for a while, it’s really hard to go back to a Honda. What does matter to me is the practical stuff – plenty of storage, easy to park and a decent driving position. I like some features—like a sunroof, Bluetooth for the phone, and I am slightly addicted to parking assistance— but not after a lot of ‘fruit’.

For me the X1 ticked all those boxes – it’s a really nice looking car and is great to drive. Easy to get in and out of, huge interior space, a nice big boot with an electric tailgate, it even has a second compartment under the boot floor to stash your umbrella and other things that you don’t want getting trashed by schoolbags each day.


I was pretty impressed with some of the technology – the sat nav has pictures of landmarks that are pretty helpful to figure out where you are (particularly if you’re directionally challenged like me). The phone integration with my iPhone was really easy to use, the stereo system is great with music streamed from my phone and also digital radio.


I’m not in the market for a new car just yet and have always preferred a hatchback to an SUV, but this is certainly an attractive option. Mr HerCanberra wasn’t so convinced (‘it’s a diesel’, he sighed). Speaking of which, the range on the one I drove was 750km on a full tank. That’s a long time between service station visits…

Him – the BMW 3series

I should open by saying I currently drive a 3series that’s a few years old – so was keen to drive the new model and see what’s changed or improved. This is the classic mid-size sports sedan and fits my lifestyle perfectly, it’s used for business purposes around Canberra, frequent trips interstate but is also practical enough to drop our two girls to school each day.

The new model is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. New engines, a smoother and quieter drive topped off with better fuel economy and more standard equipment. The new 330i turbo is great!



The most noticeable change for me is the incredible amount of technology they have crammed into the car!

The car has Connected Drive (it is always connected to the web) which means it can do everything from tell you the weather forecast to contact the dealer when it needs a service. This car also had ‘surround view’ with cameras mounted in the front bumper on either side, meaning you can see what’s coming when pulling out from a tight intersection.



The drive day (as always) was massive fun – cruising around Canberra in a bunch of brand new BMWs that somebody else owns is pretty easy to take. I also enjoyed chatting to some of the other people on the day, with a range of ages and backgrounds. Canberra being Canberra, there was of course a friend of a friend in our small group.

A lap of Canberra

Our route took us from Pialligo to the top of Mt Ainslie, the top of Black Mountain, the top of Red Hill and then via the Arboretum back to Pialligo. It was about 90 minutes in the cars all up – long enough to give each of the cars a really good run while avoiding a whole lot of cyclists and some wandering walkers (safety advice – if you’re walking down a road on a road with lots of blind bends, do it on the side that faces traffic and don’t wear headphones.)

Drew was living out all his car photographer fantasies, sticking his camera out the sunroof and making me do all these manoeuvres so that he could get the perfect ‘tracking’ shot. All in all, it was a a great day out and quite an experience  – highly recommended if you get the chance!



Drew Baker

Drew is a born and bred Canberran, and is still here despite a few attempts to escape over the years! He is an avid runner, loves to eat and drink, and has a quiet passion for supporting menswear retailers across Canberra and beyond. He is the other half of Amanda Whitley, the founder of HerCanberra. More about the Author


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author