American Car Insurance is Bonkers

Almost three years into my “American Adventure” and I still don’t own a car. Quite frankly it didn’t make sense to get one – my girlfriend had one and it was barely used, as we lived in Queens and spent most of our time in the local neighborhood or else in Manhattan.
That decision has proven even more prescient as we now find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, where going out and about is really not well advised.

We do still have one, however, and so there are some procedural things that need to be taken care of. I discovered – to my surprise and honestly slight consternation – that the vehicle was still owned by my partner’s father and insured by him too. This was alien to me, having been the registered owner of my own vehicles from my early 20s, and also kind of a problem – I had no frame of reference of how things worked in this country compared to mine and, as it turned out, neither did she!

The issue was ignored until recently, when we discovered that in order to have the car inspected in Massachusetts, it needed to be registered here. Registering it here required insurance in the state, which had to include the vehicle’s owner … and so a game of pass-the-paperwork was begun to get my partner registered as the owner, in order to get her insured, and then to get the car inspected, as it’s due this month (August).

I ended up shopping for insurance because, despite having no idea how it worked here, I had at least done it for myself before in another country, so technically that made me the more experienced one.

What I discovered was yet more of America’s baffling attempts to appear helpful whilst actually trying to screw over the consumer, and make as much money as possible in the process.

Continue reading “American Car Insurance is Bonkers”

BMW 116d SE

Do BMW actually make a bad car?

After my brief tango with the Mercedes C220d at the start of June, I found myself in need of another car for August, to move my things from London to Wales in preparation for their ultimate shipment from the UK to the US.
I rebooked with Sixt, choosing as I did before the Mercedes A-Class ‘Prestige’ option, for just north of £200. That gave me the car from mid-morning Thursday to early morning the following Monday, with full insurance cover.

I was pleased when I found out that they had a BMW 1 Series for me, instead of a Merc A-Class. I was less pleased when I saw, written on the receipt, what model I was being given.
Whereas last time I was upgraded to the pretty-swish and pretty-loaded C220d, this time I was being given a 116d SE. Or, pretty much, the bottom of the range.

There were a few options installed – a quick check of the BMW configurator reveals that the car currently sat on the driveway would cost just a shade over £28,000 to buy outright – but the initial impressions were pretty disappointing. After owning an M135i, and having spent the weekend riding in and photographing an M140i, this was a big step back.

Or so I thought. Continue reading “BMW 116d SE”

Mercedes C220d

A staunch BMW monogamist is challenged by a svelte mistress from Stuttgart

w7jOhHq - ImgurI just want to get it out of the way right up front; I HATE the Mercedes COMAND system. The entertainment and vehicle control systems that ship with modern German luxury cars are all pretty advanced these days. You have the BMW iDrive system, with its fixed tablet on the dash and rotary wheel with optional touch pad. There’s the Audi MMI interface which now supplements the central screen on most models with an awesome ‘Virtual Cockpit’ display that replaces the dials with a TFT to show all manner of data, including maps and navigation. Then you have the Mercedes COMAND system.

It’s just atrocious. A shame really, as the car itself is really very good.

Continue reading “Mercedes C220d”