Mercedes has unveiled its answer to the VW California camper van: the new V-class-derived Marco Polo bijou home on wheels.
As the exploratory name suggests, the Mercedes Marco Polo is for adventurous types who want to take their home with them on outdoor trips and camping holidays. Not sure we'd take one from Venice to the Far East though, like its namesake...
Unveiled at this week's Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, the Marco Polo has been developed in partnership with Mercedes-Benz partner Westfalia. It's a company that Daimler used to own, but which has subsequently gone back to independent ownership. There's no holding these outdoor types down.
Mercedes Marco Polo: based on the V-class
The latest Mercedes V-class is given a pop-up roof which creates space for a double bed on top of the cabin, stretching to 2050mm long and 1130mm wide. The main 'bedroom' is in the V-class's loadbay, the two-seater bench converting into a double bed the same size as the one up top.
Cleverly, the downstairs bed has electro-pneumatic bolsters built into the chairs - letting them change shape for more lateral support when used for sitting and deflating to create a flat bed for sleeping.
Cooking with gas: the new Mercedes Marco Polo
Like the VW California, the 'Merco' Polo is equipped with the niceties of camping clobber to make this a more luxurious alternative to camping under canvas. The kitchen area is decorated with LED lighting and smart piano black surfaces, designed to wipe clean and look like one of those cool, urban kitchens you see on cookery programmes.
The kitchenette has two gas burners, a 40-litre fridge and a 38-litre water tank mounted inboard to protect liquids from frost. And it's like a Swiss army knife in here; tables fold out of nowhere and the front two seats swivel around to create a dining area for four.
Mercedes will sell the Marco Polo with three diesel engines, stretching from the base 200 CDI's 134bhp to a range-topping 187bhp diesel.
Sales start at the end of July 2014 in Germany; sadly the UK distributor has no plans to offer the Marco Polo in Great Britain, officially at least.