Mercedes explores VW camper van territory with its new Marco Polo

Mercedes is attempting to muscle into the market traditionally dominated by VW’s camper van fans.

At the annual Düsseldorf Caravan Salon the company launched its new Marco Polo Activity “recreational vehicle”.

Developed with the help of Westfalia and based on Merc’s standard V-Class, it seats or sleeps up to five people and comes complete with wardrobe and retractable table.

The Marco Polo is available with five engine variants and three drive types, and can be customised to individual requirements. Mercedes say it’s the “ideal vehicle” for young families as well as for sports and outdoor activity enthusiasts.

It is equipped as standard with a three-seater bench with one-piece backrest and bed extension. The bench can be slid forward on rails the capacity of the luggage compartment can be more than doubled in an instant to accommodate surfboards, paragliding equipment or even a bicycle inside the vehicle.

Anyone who requires even more room, such as for carrying newly purchased shelf units, can also use the surface of the bed and the floor underneath the bed as load space.

Under the bed are two drawers that can be removed, allowing items to be loaded in the resulting space.

The bench seat converts into a bed measuring 1.93 metres by 1.35 metres “for three people” says Mercedes. Presumably they have to know each other well.

A roof bed under the pop-up roof on board the new Marco Polo, sleeps another two.

Featuring a cold foam mattress and “special spring elements with high point elasticity” Mercedes claims this “luxury” bed offers “a standard of lying comfort that is exceptional in the segment”.

When not in use it can be folded upwards at the front when the roof is raised to increase headroom.

At the same time, the two side ventilation slits in the concertina direct fresh air into the interior alongside the two standard-fit vent windows in the rear, which can be opened and closed electrically.

The front seats can also be swivelled – outwards by 50 degrees and inwards by up to 180 degrees.

The table also includes a bottle holder and two cup holders. More bottle holders, cup holders, stowage compartments as well as five 12 volt power sockets are to be found on the sidewalls of the rear compartment, in the cockpit and in the luggage compartment.

Lighting is provided by four reading lamps in the rear and two adjustable LED gooseneck lamps on the roof bed.

A detachable awning – a first in this market sector – is an optional extra.

Buyers are able to choose from four-cylinder diesel engines with five output ratings ranging from 88 hp to 190 hp. Three different drive configurations are on offer, with a choice of front-wheel and rear-wheel drive.

For the front-wheel drive, the new 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit with common-rail direct injection is available with 88 hp or 114 hp. The turbodiesel returns a claimed 44.1 mpg.

Greater performance is provided by the 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with two-stage turbocharging in conjunction with rear-wheel drive. This is available with an output of 136 hp, 163 hp or 190 hp.

The 163hp returns a class-leading 48.7 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 152 g/km.

The top-of-the-range Marco Polo Activity 250 BlueTEC places 190 hp and 440 Nm of torque on tap while achieving a claimed 47mpg.

UK pricing and specification are still to be confirmed. The price could be the clincher.