On the road in the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo: a mobile team building

On the road in the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo: a mobile team building

Those who go on vacation in a camper van for the first time will find interesting places, amazing experiences, but also their own limits when you will have to spend 14 days as a couple on three square meters. Even in a cabin on wheels like a Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo with high-end engines and bells and whistles, a quiet vacation trip becomes a team-building project.

“What a great idea!” The lover was immediately pleased. As an avid motorist, the idea of ​​going on holiday in a camper van seemed like the perfect combination of road cinema and disaster-safe travel. Stop where you like, put a roof tent, table and chairs in front of it, delicious food, looking at the surroundings and bottles of wine – the perfect way to relax. For me, on the other hand, who has spent half my life on four wheels and, despite all the ideological grumblings, still appreciates driving as the easiest, most self-determined and relaxing way, it was the best way to travel. combine work and leisure time under one roof to bring. And for both of them, as vacation planners who are used to entering the day in their free time at their own pace, the idea of ​​creating space and time itself was also very attractive. A holiday from the start, that’s the motto we used to prepare a camper van for a big tour of the south of France with utensils, food and bedding.

The camp car was a Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo Edition 300d painted in hyacinth red, which the press department made available for 14 days, including a brief description of the essential functions. Not really useful for new immigrants who are not used to carrying gas bottles, roof tents or fresh water and waste around the car. And above all, how to get rid of the end again – which should prove to be treacherous. Where the first one worked easily and smoothly than expected.

Because the 5.14-meter-long Marco Polo based on the V-Class is a high-quality camper, which was expanded with a lot of brainpower and comfort with the conversion specialist Westfalia. The gas supply to the bottle stored in the back is easily controlled via a lever inside and the pop-up roof with mattress (optional) is extended and – naturally – easily retracted at the push of a button. The real eye-catcher is the high-quality and colorful kitchen stove with a cold box, two gas burners and a small sink, all hidden under an elegant three-part black glass cover to save space. Underneath it there are sliding and sliding door cabinets for kitchen appliances, which are covered by a large sliding and folding table. Another cabinet for cosmetics and hygiene items is attached to the kitchen unit in the rear area. A folding roof rack and a pull-out drawer under the individually sliding leather bench seat, which transforms into a pull-out bed at the push of a button with a cushion, complete the storage space in the living area, which looks real. nice thanks to the swiveling front seats and the yacht’s floor covering – at least before setting sail.

When traveling, you need good discipline if you don’t want to sink into chaos after two days. One of the first lessons of the trip. More should follow. For example, you should have reached your destination before nightfall if possible, if you don’t want to wander around in a dark parking lot with lights, let alone food preparation. And the romantic idea of ​​staying in a good place was put in perspective very quickly due to the lack of toilet and the intended place on the Cote d’Azur, about 1500 km. So it was the first to eat kilometers.

However, this is one of the specialties of the Marco Polo parade, especially for the most powerful machine that is available to the traveler. A 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel with 237 hp (174 kW) and 500 Nm of torque pushes even a heavily loaded car forward. On the autobahn, it easily cruises up to the 200km/h limit – which is definitely not worth it if you don’t want to blow your holiday budget unnecessarily before reaching your destination due to current fuel prices. But at a cruising speed of 130 km / h, we ended up balancing around eight liters on average, which seems appropriate given the full load. The very smooth and perfectly balanced 9-speed automatic transmission also invites you to a comfortable ride and the comfortable seats allow you to survive even the longest journeys without damage.

Inside, the driver sees a sophisticated, elegantly designed theme with two-tone lacquered wood trim and aluminum trim. The cockpit has a classic instrument cluster with round, clearly legible instruments and a small information display instead of the widescreen theme now common in Mercedes cars. And the steering wheel also began at a time when there were no touch sensors, but push buttons that could be understood visually and with pleasure. But the operation is intuitive and self-explanatory. This also applies to the infotainment system, which in the top version we drove is controlled via the centrally mounted 10.25-inch touchscreen or via the touch pad in the center console. With a simple swipe, you can call up specific functions such as navigation, audio, climate and heating or on-board information. This also includes MBAC (Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control), through which many functions of the living unit, i.e. lighting, auxiliary heating, cold box, roof operation, water tank displays, can be easily operated and set to to touch finger

This works very well when you know that the cold box freezes the butter at level 3 (out of 5) – the degree display will help – how the “light instructions” are turned on and not the finger from the sensor part for turning on – and extend the roof slides. The only display of 35-liter and 40-liter waste water tanks – the camp says “grey water” – upset during the trip. Why did the display show zero percent for the previous one, even though we had closed 30 liters and emptied the gray water tank at the same time? Just looking at the operating instructions brought clarity. Lo and behold: The lever shown by the manual for draining gray water was the lever for draining fresh water. To paraphrase the best-selling author of The Kangaroo Chronicles, “Sometimes things aren’t broken, you’re just too stupid.”

However, this certainly did not apply to the electric extendable roof, which at times did not re-enter its owner on the right side, which at that time was confirmed by the Mercedes service partner from the south of France and “Oui.” , it’s broken!”. His logical suggestion: one person clicks the display while the other pushes the recoil boom into place with a gentle handshake. It’s not exactly premium, but it works. And in a way it’s also a sign of the teamwork that happens. during a 14 day trip in a camper van.

Because after the initial confusion, confusion and learning-by-doing in terms of the distribution of work, daily routines and the constant threat of clothing chaos in a small space (“This is not a vacation, but everyday life unplanned!”), us newbies. for the campers finally found Vivendi mode, in which controlled chaos and quiet contemplation were balanced. By the second week soon, the poor situation had turned into a comfortable place where everyone knew how, what and when to do it, and Marco Polo became a valued member of the team that one could endure for a few more weeks. Last but not least, his lovely “top bed” contributed to this, a mattress that is not only on the springs of very good plates, but also warm and soft even during night showers. And for an added bonus, there’s a romantic view of the starry sky above your head through the sliding glass roof.

Speaking of sleep: the blackout issue has been resolved in a small way. In the living area, the built-in roller blinds are simply broken down. In contrast to this, however, a single curtain should be stretched over the sun visors and interior mirror in the driver’s cab and surrounded by suction cups on the windows. It works in a way, but Premium looks different. Most of all, however, the front doors cannot be opened again because they immediately tear everything down again. Neighbors in VW California with built-in blinds can only shake their heads.

And while we’re complaining: unlike the V-Class, the Marco Polo doesn’t have compartments and shelves, especially cup holders that fit between the seats, which aren’t here because otherwise you can’t flip the front seats or go through them to the back. you can. However, there would certainly be room for this in a poorly expanding instrument panel. And at the back, too, a steel rod arranged wisely, but nevertheless large-format for a camping table and chairs takes up a good half of the lower luggage compartment. But the ensemble costs extra anyway, so it can be better replaced with an external alternative.

On the other hand, for the purchase price, 327 euros is not very important. Even a basic version of the Marco Polo like the 300d Edition with a more powerful engine costs less than 77,000 euros. Options fitted to our test car, which, in addition to those already mentioned, include air suspension, exterior and interior packages, automatic climate control, various driving aids, audio system, camera 360 degree and bird’s eye view, hot water. auxiliary heating and 19-inch alloy wheels, the sales price rose to 95,317 euros. But if you can afford it, you get a small but nice luxury car for the price, which is fast, comfortable, and comfortable as a mobile office or mobile vacation home, from a one-night cabin to a vacation trip lasting several weeks and a strong team player. (Frank Wald/cen)