The compact camper van business has been treating Mercedes-Benz well. It introduced the Marco Polo and Marco Polo Activity vans at the 2014 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, and now it's adding a third member to the Marco Polo family at another prominent German camper show, CMT Stuttgart. The all-new Marco Polo Horizon slots between its older siblings, adding a simple, flexible V-Class-based camper van alternative. It's game for everything from family camping excursions to everyday commutes and errands.

Mercedes says the new Horizon combines attributes of both the standard Marco Polo and the Marco Polo Activity to appeal to new target groups. Essentially, it's an Activity-like camper van that offers the superior equipment and options of a V-Class base (the Activity is based on the Vito Tourer commercial van).

Some things you'll find on the Horizon's standard equipment list that you won't find on the Activity's include a multifunctional steering wheel with trip computer, Mercedes Me Connect standard services, body-color bumpers and components and interior front carpet. Similarly, the Horizon offers a more robust options list, including Distronic Plus assistance, parking package with 360-degree camera, and COMAND Online infotainment. Packages like the AMG Line and Interior Design are also available for the Horizon but not the Activity.

What the Horizon shares with the Activity is a simple floor plan that provides for plenty of flexibility. It leaves space-hogging amenities like kitchenettes and wardrobes to the Marco Polo and other full-fledged camper vans, offering sleeping space for up to five and seating space for up to eight. The more crowded Marco Polo, by comparison, sleeps and seats only four, making it more a single-purpose camper van, less a flexible everyday people-hauler.

Horizon buyers can choose from several different seating configurations for between five and eight passengers. The standard configuration consists of two front swivel seats and a three-seat rear bench. Buyers can also opt to complement the two front swivel seats with four independently mounted rear seats, for a total of six, or a combination of two second-row seats and a three-seat third-row bench, for a total of seven. The Marco Polo Horizon press release suggests that seven is the maximum number of passengers, but Mercedes' international website says it's also possible to equip the camper with two three-seat benches for a total of eight seats.

With all those available configurations, buyers will have their say in exactly how many people are able to climb aboard. The rear seats are also mounted to rails so they can slide and remove to adjust the amount of cargo and passenger space as needed. The open, flexible layout allows the Horizon to work for everything from everyday commuting and people hauling, to full-family camping holidays, to gear-heavy adventures.

At camp, the Horizon's roof pops up, opening up headroom and a 6.7 x 3.7-foot (2.05 x 1.13-m) bed for two. The rear seats fold down into the second bed, which, depending upon seating configuration, offers up to 6.3 x 4.4-foot (1.93 m x 1.35-m) of sleeping space for up to three people. Two under-bench drawers provide some organized storage, and curtains darken the interior for a better night's (and morning's) sleep. Options include air heating, a rail-mounted folding table module and hot water auxiliary heating.

The Marco Polo Horizon can be ordered with the range of V-Class diesel engines, offering outputs from 134 to 188 hp. Those engines will come linked to Mercedes' 7G-tronic Plus seven-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and 4Matic all-wheel drive is available as an option. Beginning in March, Mercedes will offer an all-new tilting/sliding glass sunroof option.

The Marco Polo Horizon can be ordered now, starting at €52,051 euros (approx. US$55,700). Mercedes plans to expand Marco Polo distribution in 2017, offering a right-hand-drive Marco Polo in the UK and a right-hand Marco Polo Activity in Australia.

Source: Daimler

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