For too lengthy, Volkswagen had the factory-built campervan market wrapped up. That every one modified in 2017, nevertheless, when Mercedes launched the first-generation Marco Polo, primarily based on its V-Class MPV.
Like the usual Mercedes V-Class mannequin, the Marco Polo has simply been given a gentle mid-life refresh. It will get the identical up to date bumpers and trim, with Mercedes leaving a lot of the van-like aesthetic unchanged.
As earlier than, there are two derivatives to select from: the Marco Polo and the Marco Polo Horizon. Very similar to its Volkswagen California rival, one model comes with a mini kitchen, and the opposite doesn’t. The Horizon mannequin (with out the fuel hob, fridge and sink) is roughly akin to VW’s California Seaside, whereas the costlier Marco Polo sits on par with the better-equipped California Ocean.
We tried the pricier Marco Polo, which in Sport trim is anticipated to start out from round £58,000. Primary fashions might be badged 220 d, however the we tried the quicker 300 d. That model will price round £three,000 extra, which by the way is nearly precisely the identical quantity you’ll pay for a Cali Ocean 2.Zero TDI 199PS DSG.
The similarities don’t cease there: it’s clear the place Merc has benchmarked its newest camper, as the cabinet, drawer, hob and fridge placements are all nearly an identical to these you’ll discover within the VW. Common match and end is marginally plusher within the Marco Polo, however in different areas it looks like Mercedes has minimize corners in an effort to maintain prices aggressive.
The management panel for the electrically operated roof, for instance, feels as if it has been fitted as an afterthought; the VW’s unit is best built-in, although each are straightforward sufficient to make use of. If you wish to arise within the again, you’ll discover the Marco Polo’s prime deck must be clipped in place by hand, whereas the Cali’s set-up makes use of a pair of hydraulic struts, with the raised mattress fixing in place mechanically.
On the entire, nevertheless, the Mercedes is a splendidly thought-out and sensible place to be. The roof raises, making the area beneath prepared use in simply 30 seconds, and there are LED lights and zip blinds up prime. The soft-close cabinets are a pleasant contact, and the airline-style drawer on the rear is beneficial for all the chances and ends you’ll inevitably want on a household vacation. There’s loads of area to stretch out, and high quality is incredible – each up entrance and within the again.
Begin the engine and the brand new 2.Zero-litre diesel engine is notably extra refined than the outdated 2.1-litre unit, whereas the nine-speed auto field is immeasurably keener than the earlier model’s seven-speed set-up. Our 300 d rectifies our complaints in regards to the outdated 220 d feeling a bit torpid – it’s considerably quicker than something supplied by VW, and handles the Marco Polo’s added bulk with ease.
You possibly can really feel that further weight on the street, although. The Marco Polo weighs round 175kg greater than an extended wheelbase V-Class earlier than you add all of your tenting equipment, and that takes its toll on the van’s dealing with. The steering continues to be absent of any type of suggestions, and the physique appears to roll extra considerably by way of tight bends. Grip is nice, however gradual and regular is the secret – not least since you’ll quickly develop bored with the pots, pans and china mugs crashing round within the again.
No Marco Polo proprietor is prone to throw their camper up a snaking switchback, in fact, however it’s good to know the way it’d cope if the scenario arose. Vans like these might be pushed on all types of terrain – from motorways and mountain roads to metropolis streets and nation lanes, in any case.
It’s very almost as quiet as the usual V-Class at a cruise, and simply as straightforward to drive on the town. Like within the regular mannequin, you sit decrease than within the equal VW, which implies the view of the street isn’t fairly pretty much as good. The Mercedes does really feel much less cumbersome because of this, although.
Just like the V-Class, specs haven’t but been introduced. We count on all UK variations to get electrical sliding doorways, and the same suite of security and help techniques – together with Lively Brake Help, Consideration Help and Crosswind Help.