Which one would we keep?
DAVID SIMISTER EDITOR
❚ 1996 MERCEDES-BENZ S280 As much as I love our Puma I’d spend a bit more than our £500 budget to buy a 1.7-litre model, and also get one in better condition. The S-class has its little faults, but for a car that rivals a brand-new Mercedes for refinement, it’s astonishingly good value.
JAMES SADLIER MANAGING EDITOR
❚ 2000 FORD PUMA For me it’s the Puma – the ZR and S-class never stood a chance. Although the drive of the Mercedes is luxurious in comparison to the others, the fuel economy is shockingly bad. As for the MG ZR, show me one that can corner without feeling like I’m going to die, then I might be persuaded to change my mind…
MIKE LE CAPLAIN PRODUCTION EDITOR
❚ 1996 MERCEDES-BENZ S280 It’s the Mercedes for me. I can still remember reading CCW’s first report on it, slack-jawed with amazement that so much Germanic quality could be had for so little money.
MURRAY SCULLION NEWS EDITOR
❚ 1996 MERCEDES-BENZ S280 It’s classy, a phenomenal mile-mucher, and the interior’s divine – I enjoy that it’s not black leather – and, if truth be told, I find the other two £500 Challenge cars rather dull, though the MG is the most unexciting of the two, by a substantial margin.
CHRIS HOPE FEATURES EDITOR
❚ 2003 MG ZR I’ve still not had a chance to drive the Merc yet and the Puma has its issues, so that leaves the MG. It’s taken everything that’s been thrown at it and handled it all with aplomb. To my eyes, it’s easily the most reliable, which is why it gets my vote.
NICK LARKIN EDITOR AT LARGE
❚ 2003 MG ZR No need to think – it was me who pressed for and collected our MG ZR. It’s done a sterling year’s work and remained a joy to drive and even to look at. What a car!
RICHARD KILPATRICK PRODUCTS EDITOR
❚ 2000 FORD PUMA At this budget there’s just one keeper. Reliable, fun and affordable, the Puma can be enjoyed anywhere, on the smallest outlay, evoking the diverse technology and style of its era.