Automotive

New Mercedes Citan van suits up as impressive micro-camper

New Mercedes Citan van suits u...
It's not the most rugged rooftop-camping micro-RV out there, but the upfitted Citan is ready to travel and spend the night
It's not the most rugged rooftop-camping micro-RV out there, but the upfitted Citan is ready to travel and spend the night
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The new Mercedes Citan gets camping capabilities with a VanEssa folding bed
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The new Mercedes Citan gets camping capabilities with a VanEssa folding bed
The Mercedes Citan becomes a family camper van with Sortimo interior kitchen and bed modules and a rooftop tent
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The Mercedes Citan becomes a family camper van with Sortimo interior kitchen and bed modules and a rooftop tent
In contrast to the drawer-style module from VanEssa, Sortimo's tailgate kitchen features a flip-up sink and countertop
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In contrast to the drawer-style module from VanEssa, Sortimo's tailgate kitchen features a flip-up sink and countertop
Fold out the rooftop tent, and campers have room for four people - two on the bed in the van, two in the tent
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Fold out the rooftop tent, and campers have room for four people - two on the bed in the van, two in the tent
It's not the most rugged rooftop-camping micro-RV out there, but the upfitted Citan is ready to travel and spend the night
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It's not the most rugged rooftop-camping micro-RV out there, but the upfitted Citan is ready to travel and spend the night
Enjoying the high vantage point at sunset
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Enjoying the high vantage point at sunset
VanEssa's tailgate kitchen includes a 31-L compressor fridge
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VanEssa's tailgate kitchen includes a 31-L compressor fridge
The new Mercedes-Benz Citan with camping modules by VanEssa
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The new Mercedes-Benz Citan with camping modules by VanEssa
It's all about van and small RV life at Mercedes-Benz Vans' exhibit the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon earlier this year
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It's all about van and small RV life at Mercedes-Benz Vans' exhibit the 2021 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon earlier this year
Mercedes-Benz Citan Vanessa micro-camper prototype from the Caravan Salon
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Mercedes-Benz Citan Vanessa micro-camper prototype from the Caravan Salon
New Mercedes Citan
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New Mercedes Citan
The Citan uses its two sliding doors for a convenient micro-camper configuration
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The Citan uses its two sliding doors for a convenient micro-camper configuration
VanEssa's kitchen and bed pack neatly in the load area
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VanEssa's kitchen and bed pack neatly in the load area
Getting cooking with the VanEssa Citan camper kit
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Getting cooking with the VanEssa Citan camper kit
VanEssa's slide-out equipment package includes a single-burner stove
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VanEssa's slide-out equipment package includes a single-burner stove
The various drawers and slide-outs of the VanEssa kitchen module
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The various drawers and slide-outs of the VanEssa kitchen module
One advantage of the micro-camper van layout is being able to brew coffee from the comfort of bed
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One advantage of the micro-camper van layout is being able to brew coffee from the comfort of bed
VanEssa's fold-out bed all set up
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VanEssa's fold-out bed all set up
Before revealing the Sortimo modular interior at the Swiss Caravan Salon, Mercedes showed this VanEssa unit at the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon
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Before revealing the Sortimo modular interior at the Swiss Caravan Salon, Mercedes showed this VanEssa unit at the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon
Mercedes Citan cab
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Mercedes Citan cab
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The Sprinter and Vito/V-Class have long been the "Mercedes" of van life, underpinning countless camper vans and motorhomes, from monstrous off-roaders to large luxury retreats. After introducing the new Citan, Mercedes is eager to get its smallest van in on the action. It recently turned to two camper equipment specialists for help in turning the tiny van into a modular micro-camper ready to tackle both weekend leisure time and daily driving.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz was as on top of global RV and mini-camper trends as any automaker in the industry, updating the most recent Sprinter with market-leading motorhome-specific features and launching the retro-inspired pop-up camper van the US has been lusting after for nearly two decades.

The Sprinter and Vito/V-Class/Metris have the large and midsize markets fully covered for the three-pointed star, and now Mercedes looks to reach out to those buyers who want something even smaller and more affordable. It says that so-called "micro-campers" are in high demand owing to their flexibility in working as both campers and everyday minivans, their comparatively light, maneuverable footprints, and their affordability

The Citan uses its two sliding doors for a convenient micro-camper configuration
The Citan uses its two sliding doors for a convenient micro-camper configuration

While Mercedes did occasionally explore the possibility of a light camper based on the first-generation Citan, it appears much more serious about appealing to van lifers with the new second-gen Citan. It was touting the new van's camper-friendly dimensions well before it had even debuted the van, and the first show to which it took the Citan was the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, not an auto or commercial vehicle show.

At the Caravan Salon, Mercedes showed the first possibility for a Citan Tourer micro-camper, a two-sleeper developed with VanEssa Mobilcamping, which we've previously seen putting out Oktoberfest-worthy tailgater pickups and modular Sprinter camper vans. Tweaked from its first-generation Citan kits, the new VanEssa Citan II kitchen and bed modules deliver the camper/commuter flexibility Mercedes seems to have in mind for the Citan, allowing the van to transform back and forth in a few simple steps.

The various drawers and slide-outs of the VanEssa kitchen module
The various drawers and slide-outs of the VanEssa kitchen module

The VanEssa kitchenette includes a series of drawers and slide-outs with a single-burner stove, available 31-L compressor fridge, and a sink plumbed to a 13-L fresh water tank. The separate fold-out sleeping module uses the kitchen block as part of its structural support, creating a 45 x 74-in (115 x 189-cm) bed for two. During travel, it folds up and stores completely atop the kitchen, allowing the rear Citan seats to be used.

Mercedes identified the VanEssa-equipped show van as a prototype at the time of the Caravan Salon, but VanEssa now has the second-gen Citan kit up for sale, offering the kitchenette for €1,945 and the sleeping kit for €1,045. Add in the €26,481+ price of the Citan Tourer, and you have a cozy micro-camper-cum-family minivan for under €30,000 (€29,471, or approximately US$33,250, to get exact), something VW Caddy California shoppers might consider comparison-shopping.

In shifting from the Düsseldorf show to the Swiss Caravan Salon that wrapped up earlier this month, Mercedes worked with Sortimo Switzerland on another Citan micro-camper. Sortimo specializes in all manners of van upfitting for life and work, and its S-Camper lineup includes modular camper components similar to those from VanEssa.

In contrast to the drawer-style module from VanEssa, Sortimo's tailgate kitchen features a flip-up sink and countertop
In contrast to the drawer-style module from VanEssa, Sortimo's tailgate kitchen features a flip-up sink and countertop

For the Citan show camper, Sortimo installed its Multifunction Box, which is based on the Egoé Nestbox. The multi-piece kit functions much like VanEssa's kitchen/sleeper setup, carrying a folding sleeping platform and mattress atop a tailgate kitchen. Instead of the stack of drawers that VanEssa uses, the Multifunction Box has a single slide-out that provides access to the available fridge and the inset dual-burner stove. A countertop holding an expandable sink basin flips up from the face of the slide-out to finish the outdoor cooking space.

The Multifunction Box bed provides a generous queen-like (59 x 80-in) 151 x 202-cm sleeping surface, according to Mercedes. Mercedes and Sortimo turned this particular Citan micro-home into a family-ready four-sleeper by mounting a fold-out rooftop tent to the roof rails, creating an upstairs/downstairs 2+2 layout.

Enjoying the high vantage point at sunset
Enjoying the high vantage point at sunset

Sortimo Switzerland offers the full kitchen/sleeper Multifunction kit for CHF4,787 ($5,150) and sells two rooftop tents from Australia's TJM, starting at CHF1,760 ($1,900).

Given how preoccupied Mercedes has been with campers during the new Citan's release, we've been wondering if it ultimately plans an official Marco Polo-family micro-camper based on the new small van, a more integrated compact van camper that could grab some of the pie Volkswagen enjoys with the Caddy California. So far, it's stuck to the simpler route of aftermarket off-the-shelf kits, but it's almost 2022, and January's CMT show will kick off a new year of camper vans. Mercedes has a history of attending CMT and highlighting new camper products and show vehicles.

Source: Daimler

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