Urban camper van melds Mercedes style with indoor/outdoor flexibility
Mercedes-Benz tends to be synonymous with top-end German luxury in the US, but over in Europe, it has a much broader connotation, especially when the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon rolls through town. There, Mercedes-Benz equates to everything from Benz-in-Benz ultra-premium motorhomes larger and comfier than any Mercedes-Maybach, to hardcore backcountry barges, to refined camper vans efficiently packaged down to the millimeter. VanTourer's new Urban debuts in that last category, mixing a small Vito-based pop-top alternative in with the company's lineup of larger Ducato campers. Its smart floor plan brings an indoor/outdoor kitchen, four sleeping berths, and the ability to change back into a work-ready cargo van or comfy minivan.
Like other small, modular camper vans, the 202-in (514-cm) Urban relies on floor rails to serve as the gateway to the blissful flexibility that allows a single van to function as a four-person family camper, two-person adventure camper, everyday passenger van and capacious cargo van. VanTourer's rails are cut a little short when compared to something like the Pössl Campster, eliminating some of the glorious seven-seat minivan-cum-camper van flexibility of that model (hopefully Pössl's upcoming Campstar will offer that level of versatility on a Mercedes base). Instead, the Urban seats four during camping or everyday driving while offering the option to remove the rear seats and kitchen block to create a more spacious cargo van.
On camping trips, the two rear seats fold flat and turns into a 75 x 39-in (190 x 100-cm) bed with help from a pair of rail-mounted cushioned extensions at the front. Combine that with the 75 x 43-in (191 x 108-cm) pop-up roof bed, and you get a compact camper for four. Singles and couples who don't need to sleep anyone else can also remove the rear seating, use the extra cargo space for bikes, surfboards, snowboards and the like, and enjoy a loft-like living space.
The Urban's removable kitchen block is designed for indoor/outdoor use, much like the one in the Pössl Campster. VanTourer's kitchen does away with the integrated tanks some designs use in order to carry lighter into and out of the van. Gas, water and electrical hookups on both the left and right sides of the van allow users some flexibility in setting up for cooking – choose the side with the awning/best shade, the best view, the most space, etc. The extra gas hookup also lets campers run an outdoor propane grill.
Whether used inside or outside, the efficient kitchen block puts a dual-burner stove and sink in the hands of the group's most capable chef. It doesn't have an independent countertop, so said chef will have to rely on the detachable table and folding stove and sink lids. The advantage of cooking inside the van is that the kitchen is then positioned next to the non-removable 30-L compressor fridge. But the kitchen won't wander too far from the van/fridge either way, so cooking outdoors is convenient enough, too.
The kitchen lacks the pantry and cabinet space of larger campers, but it does include a neat little cubby stack above the fridge, next to the electrical command center. More storage is located farther back in the permanently installed full-height cabinet.
The removable dining table attaches to the kitchen block to stand between the four people sitting on the rear bench and swivel driver cab seats. Its metallic construction works with the accompanying magnetic-bottom glasses to keep drinks stable, even if there's a hint of slope below the tires.
A full array of direct and indirect lighting complete with two remote-controlled RGB strips keeps the Urban interior bright. Power comes from a 95-Ah AGM battery, and a 230-V hookup is also included as standard.
The Urban starts at €49,900 (approx. US$59,375) for the pop-up Base van with a fixed kitchen in place of the mobile indoor/outdoor model. The Base variant is built on a 101-hp front-wheel-drive Vito van and offers less opportunity for vehicular upgrading, including no all-wheel-drive option.
Stepping up to the €61,900 (US$73,675) Comfort is really where you slide into the camper van described above, complete with indoor/outdoor kitchen. Both the Comfort and the €71,990 (US$85,675) Prime models are built on the 134-hp rear-wheel drive Vito, with 4Matic all-wheel drive available as a €4,193 (US$5,000) option. The duo also includes multiple engine options up to 236 hp.
The main factor differentiating the Prime as flagship is a higher-spec Vito build with standards like Distronic distance control, 7-in touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and rear back-up camera, all available only optionally on the Comfort. Both the Prime and Comfort include a standard Webasto camping heater, optional on the Base.
The VanTourer Urban made its world premiere at the 2020 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, which wrapped up on Sunday.
Source: VanTourer (German)