Test: Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo 300d Edition

The new 300d edition of the Marco Polo spoils its guests with performance and comfort. Others, however, sometimes even leave them stunned.

Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant of the 13th century, is a symbol of long, arduous and extremely long journeys. The camping model from Mercedes-Benz named after him stands for the opposite, as a short vacation with the new and noble edition 300d Edition revealed: The compact camper allows fast travel at a high level of comfort, but is more suitable for weekend trips than for globetrotters. The camper model, which was technically upgraded a few months ago, fully lives up to another name promise: Mercedes-Benz.

Comfort motorhome

Westfalia conversions based on small vans, known as Marco Polo, have been offered by the Stuttgart-based company for more than three and a half decades. Both the mobile home equipment and the Mercedes base have been refined over the years. The most recent progress is marked by the facelift of the V-Class introduced in 2019, which brought several notable innovations in connectivity and drive.

The most impressive innovation is the new 300d top engine. What sounds like three liters of displacement and six cylinders is actually just two liters and four pots. But what does “just” mean in view of 176 kW / 239 PS and 500 Newton meters, which, in conjunction with a nine-speed automatic system, ensure smooth and, at the same time, unmatched speed in the motorhome sector. With a sprint from standstill in under eight seconds and a top speed of 220 km / h, the 300d in the van segment cannot match. Anyone who is driving quickly in the left lane of the motorway in the Marco Polo can often experience annoyed car drivers behind them, reflexively expressing their will to overtake in the face of the boxy car in front. If you have clear travel in the Marco Polo, you can often see the previously fading headlights in the rearview mirror becoming smaller.

Confident at high speeds despite the size

But not only the passage is phenomenal, also the road holding, because the 5,14 meter long and almost two meter high van seems to suck itself into the asphalt at top speed. No trace of the typical sponginess of a transporter.

The trustworthy and binding nature is by no means bought at the price of sporty toughness. Rather, the 2,5-ton truck amazes with its velvety comfort. Even Mercedes car models can take a slice of the Marco Polo. Like the engine, the swallowing chassis also has reference class status. In addition, the wind noise remains well mannered even beyond 200 km / h. Despite the comfort design, the camper can, if desired, be guided through curves with momentum, which makes you feel a little like on the high seas. Even the agility control chassis of our test specimen with its selective damping system, which is subject to a surcharge, cannot remove the high structure and weight, but it definitely puts it into perspective.

High quality interior

Lawn is good, but traveling is better. In any case, in the new Marco Polo 300d it is a pleasure to glide along at a moderate pace, with an equally moderate 8-liter consumption and the automatic cruise control that reacts to the traffic situation. You can take in the beautiful cockpit ambience with fine materials and chic shapes. If the distance controller pays attention, you also have the opportunity to discover the many talents of the MBUX operating concept, which is now also available for the basic V-Class, without being unduly distracted by the traffic. Instead of tapping and looking at the touchscreen, many functions can be regulated by voice control. Whether entering the destination address, changing the radio station or activating the seat heating - the voice comand lady listens attentively and also implements the wishes if she is able to do so. However, when she requested seat heating, she kindly pointed out that our vehicle did not even have this comfort feature. The highlight: While driving, you are not distracted with the search or operation, but can direct your gaze on the traffic, which is even better achieved by fading in driving-relevant information in the driver's field of vision thanks to the head-up display. Many other assistants such as traffic sign recognition, drowsiness warnings, lane change assistants or 360-degree cameras provide support when traveling and maneuvering.

The enumeration of all the details of the many pages of equipment list with small letters would go beyond the scope of this, which is why only a few highlights should be mentioned at this point: Our noble version was among other things with four leather seats, electric tailgate, electric sliding door, DAB radio and Glass sunroof equipped. In addition, there are the many details of extensive camping equipment: There is a retractable roof bed with plate-sprung cold foam mattress, a bench that can be converted into a double bed and a folding table around which a group of four can gather thanks to the rotating front seats. Fridge, auxiliary heating, gas stove, sink, waste water tank and storage compartments also ensure living comfort like at home. Everything is neatly installed, functional and staged with classy surfaces like in a catalog for designer living spaces. If you are traveling as a couple, you can feel comfortable here for a long time and cuddle up in the two-person bed on the upper floor at night. Three or four people can also spend the night in the Marco Polo, but then things get tight, among other things because the every evening converting and dismantling the bench into a double bed requires the annoying shifting of luggage several times a day. If you want to spend several days on a campsite with more than two people, you should therefore set up an additional tent.

Camping luxury

The new Advanced Control (MBAC) interface module, which Mercedes has developed especially for motorhomes as a sub-function of the MBUX system, ensures that there is again a great comfort cinema. All important camping functions and information are bundled under the corresponding menu item on the large infotainment display. So you can have the water supply shown on the display, activate the auxiliary heating, regulate the temperature of the cool box or extend and retract the roof. The latter is simply electric. The “Advanced Control” menu can also be mirrored on a connected smartphone, which can then also be used to control the functions. So if you relax in the hammock next to the Marco Polo, you can switch on the ambient light in the vehicle from there or cool the beer in the fridge a few more degrees. A gimmick, maybe, but a nice one. If it's cold and wet outside, you can also sit comfortably around the table inside, play or eat while using the data volume of your smartphone to watch music videos from the network and enjoy the rich sound of the audio system.

You will, however, flicker a bit with your ears when you hear the price. The basic Marco Polo Edition 70.000d costs almost 300 euros. Extras for around 13.000 euros were also on board with our test copy. Sovereignty à la Mercedes also ensures the brand-typical prices in the camper world.

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