Mercedes goes campin' with expanded leisure van line
Volkswagen may be the German automaker most renowned for camper vans, but it's not the only one offering them. Mercedes-Benz has been playing that game, too, and at this year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, it'll be showing camper vans based on every van model in its lineup, Sprinter down to Citan. There'll be an AMG version of the Marco Polo camper, collaborations with German camper converters like Hymer and Terracamper, and a simple Citan Tourer camper with roof-top tent.
While the Sprinter has been the apple of camper van converters' eyes of late, Mercedes itself has been focusing its camper efforts more on its mid-size vans, first with the Viano Marco Polo, then with the V-Class Marco Polo and MP Activity. This year in Düsseldorf, Mercedes is showing a broader lineup, with the help of a few partners. Its display will include camper vans with Sprinter, V-Class, Vito and Citan origins.
Citan Tourer gets a lid
Mercedes would undoubtedly prefer we start with the actual products, but we're most fascinated with the littlest brother of the group. We've noted the growing acceptance and love of roof-top tents from manufacturers like Tepui, and the sight of such a tent standing high above the big three-point star emblem, and not even on a more obvious candidate like a Unimog or G-Class, takes the mainstreaming of roof-top tents to new heights, at least visually.
The tent in question is the fold-out TopDog from Germany's 3Dog Camping, and Mercedes calls this particular van the first Citan Tourer camper it's showing. While interesting to look at, the show van appears to be just a standard Citan Tourer without any other unique amenities or packaging. Mercedes has designed it around active individuals who might make the spur-of-the-moment decision to stay in the outdoors overnight, perhaps hikers or climbers who spend all day out adventuring and get back after dusk, too tired to drive home.
Hymercar Grand Canyon S
Okay, so the Citan show car isn't exactly a camper van so much as a van with a tent on top, but it's still pretty cool, in our opinion. A more complete camper van experience, the Grand Canyon S from Hymer has a body specially widened to accommodate a transverse 76.7 x 55-in (195 x 140-cm) bed in back. It also has a kitchenette with dual-burner stove and sink, a full bathroom, and a dinette area with folding table between the bench and swivel front seats. There's also a 90-liter refrigerator.
Mercedes will display the Grand Canyon S on its Düsseldorf stand, but the model is sold through Hymer. Hymer introduced it in June as the first Mercedes alternative in its Hymercar camper van line (Hymer does build larger motorhomes on the Sprinter chassis).
The Grand Canyon S starts at €55,490 (approx. US$62,750), as announced in a press release last month, and four-wheel drive is available optionally. Hymer also plans to have its own Grand Canyon S display in Düsseldorf, too.
Marco Polo AMG Line
Another interesting product coming to Mercedes' stand, the Mercedes Marco Polo AMG Line gives camper van owners a performance trim, at least in name. If you're thinking AMG's done any major engine tuning or performance overhauls like it does on its cars, perhaps giving Porsche-powered SpaceCamper TH5 a run for its money, you'll be heartily disappointed. Mercedes-AMG has added a lower sport suspension with tauter damping and springing, though we're not sure being 15 mm closer to the ground is a good thing in a van sure to tour its way over all types of surfaces. Agility Control with frequency-based variable damping is available optionally.
The AMG Line is really more about looking "performance" than actually achieving it, which is probably more than fine with most camper van consumers. Outside, it wears an AMG front apron with big air inlets, 19-in twin-spoke AMG light-alloy wheels, a diffuser-look rear apron and a chrome load sill guard. Brushed aluminum pedals, chrome silver accents and carbon-look trim bring the sporty theme inside.
Introduced earlier this year, the AMG Line is available as an add-on package listed at €3,546 (about $4,000).
Terra Camper Vansportscamper
Those looking for a sportier breed of camper van will also want to check out the Vansportscamper from Terra Camper, a German converter whose recent work has included the Vito 4x4-based Tecamp. They won't have to look far, either, because the Vansportscamper will be sitting inside Mercedes' exhibit.
Based solely on looks, we'd say the Vansportscamper one-ups Mercedes-AMG's effort, a black-out theme permeating the pop-up sleeper roof, aluminum wheels, and detachable components from Mercedes van tuner Hartmann Tuning. The one interior photo we have shows quilted leather seats and a refrigerator, but that's all the information we have about the cabin design. Hopefully we'll get some more details when the show gets underway because the Vansportscamper looks like it could be the most interesting of the bunch.
New Marco Polo "editions"
Finally, Mercedes updates its bread-and-butter Marco Polo and Marco Polo Activity leisure vans with upmarket "EDITION" versions (does Mercedes' model name scribe really get a paycheck?!). Both models come with extra equipment as standard.
The Marco Polo Edition is modestly dressed up in an exterior sports package, 17-in light-alloy wheels and metallic paintwork. It includes the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission, along with the adaptive Intelligent Light System and Parking Package.
The Audio 20 CD infotainment system should keep the whole crew entertained on long trips to the campground, and the Garmin MAP Pilot charts the course. The hot-air auxiliary heating system can be activated remotely with Mercedes Me Connect, a mobile app and service suite that offers remote vehicle diagnostics, emergency calling, and other features and services. A Tempmatic air conditioning system is also included.
The Marco Polo Activity Edition has some of the same types of features, including metallic paintwork, 17-in light-alloy wheels, hot-air heating and Tempmatic air conditioning. It also has detachable body parts and bumpers in the vehicle color, tinted rear glass, an Audio 15 infotainment system, Becker Map Pilot navigation and front seat heating.
German pricing starts at €59,500 ($67k) for the Marco Polo Edition and €44,625 ($50.4k) for the Marco Polo Activity Edition. That's roughly €2,900 over the standard Marco Polo and €3,665 over the Marco Polo Activity.
The Düsseldorf Caravan starts tomorrow, Saturday, August 27.