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Volkswagen had long been the only automaker offering a factory-built camper van. But, having seen the huge sales the VW California has racked up over the past decade or so, Mercedes-Benz has joined the fray with its new Marco Polo, which has just gone on sale in the United Kingdom. One of the California’s biggest markets, incidentally.

The Marco Polo is based on the posh V Class minivan version of the Vito van - known as Metris in the United States. It seats and sleeps four people; the two-seat sofa folds down into a double bed, and another pair of berths are situated in the electrically raising pop-top.

It comes with a built-in kitchenette complete with stove and fridge; built-in closet; a folding table with two chairs; swivelling front seats; three-zone climate control; external water and power hook-ups; tinted rear windows; Garmin satnav; rear-view camera; leather upholstery; split tailgate; and “yacht wood” flooring.

In V220d form, the Marco Polo is powered by a 2.1-liter, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 163 horsepower (122 kilowatts) and 280 pound-feet (380 Newton meters) of torque. The V250d has a twin-turbo version of the same motor, serving up 190 hp (142 kW) and 325 lb-ft (440 Nm). Both drive the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Surprisingly, both also return identical fuel consumption of 44.8 miles-per-gallon on the European cycle.

The base-level Sport model rides on 18-inch wheels, while the AMG Line adds 19-inch rims, sports suspension, and a mild bodykit.

It looks like a quality item in these images, but you pay for it. The same is true of the California, but you pay even more for the Marco Polo. There’s no other way of saying it: prices start at £53,180 ($65,562).

That much money would plenty of larger, coachbuilt campers. But you would have to suffer with a fairly hopeless Fiat Ducato (Ram ProMaster) chassis, and rather tragic interior decor and quality. It might be better, then, to buy one of these a decent tent for extra people.

There’s no word on plans for a Metris Marco Polo.


Gallery: 2016 Mercedes V Class Marco Polo

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