Back in July, Mercedes-Benz announced it would be introducing the new Marco Polo camper at this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon. Now that the show is underway in Germany's Rhine-Ruhr region, Mercedes has revealed both the Marco Polo and the Marco Polo Activity. The Activity brings a light, athletic footprint to overnight road tripping.
The Marco Polo Activity has the same 5.14 x 1.93 x 1.98-m (16.9 x 6.3 x 6.5-ft) measurements as the standard Marco Polo, but it is a sort of "camper light" version (Mercedes refers to it as a "recreational vehicle," saving "camper van" for the regular Marco Polo). The primary substantive difference separating the two is that the Activity leaves the kitchen unit at the factory. Without it, the Activity has the room for three rear bench seats in place of two. While the Marco Polo is a full camper built for those that plan to eat, sleep and live on the road, the Activity is more of a versatile van for those that want to play outside until dark, catch a night of sleep in the field and do it all again come morning.
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The loss of the kitchen unit means campers will have to cook outdoors – or grab breakfast at the local diner – but it opens up more sleeping space. The three-seat bench folds into a 1.93 x 1.3-m (6.3 x 4.4-ft) bed for sleeping up to three people. The rear-bench conversion hardware raises the surface up, allowing the seat belts to tuck away below the bed. The electrically controlled rear vent windows keep things from getting stuffy, and the curtains create a dark sleeping chamber.
The second bed in the pop-up roof, which measures 2.05 x 1.13 m (6.7 x 3.7 ft), gives the Marco Polo Activity the capacity for up to five people to stretch out and sleep soundly. When the roof bed is not in use, it can be moved out of the way to open up more headroom within the cabin.
The Activity includes a fold-out table with two integrated cup holders and a bottle holder. The table sets up between the rear bench and the swiveling front seats, giving all occupants a space to eat, work and play games. Four reading lights, five 12-volt power outlets and a series of additional cup and bottle holders make the Activity cabin a comfortable, functional space in which to spend evenings and rainy afternoons. An available awning provides a little bit of shade for sitting outside, detaching from the van body when not needed.
The interior includes easy-clean black side paneling and anthracite TPO flooring. The rear bench is upholstered in the buyer's choice of black or gray Santiago fabric or optional black Lugano leather.
In addition to its lack of kitchen, the Activity loses supporting equipment, such as water tanks. Mercedes imagines owners taking advantage of the extra space to transport all types of outdoor gear and tools. The rear bench slides forward on its floor rails to make more room in back for large items like a surfboard, bicycle or parasailing gear. Those that need more room can fold the bed, using its surface and the space underneath for cargo. Two under-bed drawers provide organization and remove to open up more space.
Marco Polo Activity buyers have a number of options in terms of powertrain. Mercedes offers a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel in 88- and 114-hp tunes or a 2.1-liter turbo diesel in 136-, 163- and 190-hp levels. It also offers front-, rear- and all-wheel drive options. The Activity includes standard Crosswind Assist and Attention Assist intelligent assistance systems, and Mercedes offers options like Active Parking Assist and Lane Keeping Assist.
The Marco Polo Activity starts at €38,960 (US$51,200), a good deal cheaper than the standard Marco Polo, which bases in at €54,835. Those that want to stray far off the beaten path should consider another Mercedes camping vehicle: the Zetros-based expedition vehicle.
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