From £53,1808
A cheap house or an expensive car? A facelift to Mercedes’ luxury campervan brings some welcome engine updates
Doug Revolta Terminalsecurity
12 April 2019

What is it?

This is a well presented two-bedroom detached house with a newly fitted kitchen and dining area, with yacht wood flooring, situated in the heart of anywhere you care to park it. You get the idea. The Mercedes-Benz V-Class Marco Polo is a bite-size luxury property on wheels, and it’s just had a few updates as part of a facelift for the entire V-Class MPV range.

Chief among them – a very welcome refresh in the engine and gearbox department. The OM654 four-cylinder diesel engine from the E-Class, GLE and CLS, with two power outputs (220d and 300d), is now available, along with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox.

Elsewhere in the V-Class lineup, automatic emergency braking is now standard and the styling has been tweaked inside and out. So, is this 2019’s must-have holiday adventure vehicle?

What's it like?

Well, it’s not short on passenger space, that’s for sure. It’s more than five metres long and has a three-metre wheelbase, but, when you clamber into the back, you will still be amazed at the amount of stuff they’ve been able to cram in. There’s seating for four, with rear seats that fold down into a double bed, and a pop up roof that allows space for another double bed on the makeshift ‘second-floor’. There's also a full-on kitchen installation with a sink, gas hob, fridge and plenty of cupboards and storage compartments.

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The end result is a living space that is significantly more glamorous than most university halls' of residence, and that offers endless opportunities for #lifestyle advertisements that feature handsome windswept blonde couples with guitars and surfboards.

All this will be familiar to anyone with the pre-facelift Marco Polo, though, so what’s actually new? Well, not a great deal. There’s some new upholsteries, a new front-end design, some new paint colours and alloy wheels, but, these days, the dashboard design feels a step behind the flashy widescreen interiors you'll find in Mercedes' new A-Class and GLE. There’s not even the option of a fully digital driver's display. On top of that, the fiddly panel that controls such features as the roof and auxiliary heating feels jarringly ‘retro’, complete with its Nokia 6610-style pixelated screen.

It’s worth pointing out that, although its roof pops up; in its normal, closed position the Marco Polo’s height comes in under the two-metre mark. In other words – it should fit into most underground car parks and garages.

But while this interior is much like what we’ve seen before, the engine and gearbox are all-new. Gone is the rattly 2.1-litre diesel engine from the pre-facelift model, replaced by this superior 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel paired with Mercedes' 9G-Tronic transmission. It’s not just the difference in pace that’s noticeable – this is an impressively strong, gutsy engine – but rather the huge leap forwards in refinement. NVH all round is better, with the gently idling diesel a welcome replacement for the gruff 2.1-litre. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is slick and not easily flustered, with those two extra ratios greatly helping cruising refinement.

The Marco Polo is, though, still based on the Vito van and, as a result, has an agricultural feel to it. After all, attempting to create a polished, premium product using such humble underpinnings is a bit like fitting a brand new designer kitchen into a house that’s about to fall down. There is a fairly constant shimmy in the chassis over undulating roads, and a fair bit of clunking suspension noise to go with it, even with the adaptive dampers that are standard on all UK models.

The brake pedal feel is far from perfect – there’s a lot of travel in it before anything seems to happen, but then stopping something that tips the scales at a monstrous 2487kg effectively is no simple feat. The steering is light, smooth and accurate, but there is – predictably – a big old lean through fast corners. But then, you won’t be tearing around B-roads for fear of redecorating its interior with your freshly cooked breakfast. If you gently shuffle from one picturesque campsite to another, you’ll have little to complain about dynamically, although you’ll still be very aware that this is a vehicle with commercial vehicle roots.

 

Should I buy one?

Then there’s the price, which is still to be 100% confirmed; but the V-Class has never been a bargain. It’ll hold its value well, but the initial outlay will still be pretty eye watering. A PCP finance deal might still be cheaper than property rent in London – but not by much.

If you want to spend a little less, the Marco Polo Horizon is an option; it comes with the two beds but not the kitchen. The Volkswagen California, meanwhile, is the obvious, cheaper campervan competitor and offers the same #lifestyle getaway opportunities for less money. But if you’re willing to pay extra for a posh badge on the nose and a slight lift in perceived quality inside, the Marco Polo still appeals.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class 3--d Marco Polo specification

Where Barcelona, Spain Price £62,100 (est) On sale Now Engine 4 cyls in-line, 1950cc, turbocharged Power 236bhp at 4200rpm Torque 369lb ft at 1600-4200rpm Gearbox 9-spd automatic Kerb weight 2487kg Top speed 134mph 0-62mph 8.6sec Fuel economy tbc CO2 tbc Rivals Volkswagen California

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Comments
10

12 April 2019

Campervans without a toilet/shower seem stupid to me, especially 60 grand ones.

XXXX just went POP.

13 April 2019
typos1 wrote:

Campervans without a toilet/shower seem stupid to me, especially 60 grand ones.

Pooh with a view!

This is true luxury motoring.  I want one.

12 April 2019
"but then stopping something that tips the scales at a monstrous 2487kg effectively is no simple feat."

Monstrous? About the same as a well specced Ranger Rover, yet it's barely mentioned in any road tests of that vehicle, and that's just a glorified hatchback for persons of questionable taste. Not a house on wheels, like this.

12 April 2019
Agree with typos 1 - no shower or toilet so what's the point?

12 April 2019
casual wrote:

Agree with typos 1 - no shower or toilet so what's the point?

You need the Nugget!

13 April 2019
casual wrote:

Agree with typos 1 - no shower or toilet so what's the point?

 

You get a weather-proof, warm, portable sleeping unit for four. To be honest, I’d have one without the kitchen sink because you can use it as a useful van the rest of the time... and keep your cooking smells and associated mess outside your bedroom.

13 April 2019

Although I suppose I could have an X7 as well and park it up somewhere to use as the toilet....

Steam cars are due a revival.

13 April 2019

so there's room for 7 toilets. Ideal for a festival!

15 April 2019

i love this car! i have a dream that ones a day i have this car and I am doing struggle on this to make my dream truth!. i recently started a website of 

 at a very short time period and have lot's of struggle now this is brand. 

jer

15 April 2019

But they should be van + prices say £35k then they would sell. Do agree you need a bog and shower to cut the ties to the camp site. I used a motorhome for a holiday and that was crude enough.

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