Mercedes may be better known for luxury cars, but with a lineup of vans and rugged off-roaders like the Unimog and G-Class, the three-pointed star also twinkles from the grille of camping vehicles of every size and style, most notably Marco Polo camper vans. For this month's CMT show, Mercedes is showing a completely new category of camper: the X-Class pickup camper. With help from a couple of German camping vehicle specialists, the X-Class is quite ready to explore the off-beaten path and make camp for a night or few.
Now that Mercedes has a pickup of its own, it's eager to show how it can work as a rugged, capable camper. Its new CMT concepts aren't exactly cutting edge material, since they basically just adapt existing pickup camper solutions to the X-Class, but there's definitely something cool about a Mercedes pickup camper and we look forward to seeing our first out in the wild.
For its most fully equipped X-Class camper concept, Mercedes worked with pickup camper specialist Tischer. The sandwich-walled slide-in Tischer camper aboard the deep-blue X-Class includes a kitchen with three-burner stove, a main bed in the over-cab alcove, a three-person sitting area/convertible bed, and a bathroom with swivel toilet, foldaway sink and shower - not a bad layout for a compact bed-top camper.
For those that prefer simpler and lighter, Mercedes also has an X-Class set-up from VanEssa, a company it also worked with ahead of last year's Düsseldorf salon. The VanEssa hardware appears identical to the VW Amarok version we looked at last year, pairing a full slide-out kitchen on one side with a pullout storage tray on the other. To add a touch of Mercedes luxury, the package includes a teak wood cover and tailgate trim. The cover opens up 45 degrees with the help of integrated struts.
VanEssa's kitchen provides full food storage and cooking capabilities, combining a fridge/freezer, sink and storage drawers, one of which holds a single-burner stove - only thing missing is the mini beer keg that VanEssa showed on the Amarok package. The VanEssa X-Class doesn't provide any sleeping shelter, but those looking to stay the night could always hoist a roof-top tent up above the cab or pitch one on the ground next to the truck.
Along with the new-look X-Class campers, Mercedes will bring "Edition" models of the Marco Polo, Marco Polo Activity and Marco Polo Horizon to CMT. Based on the success it's had with the lefthand-drive Marco Polo, it will be launching a righthand-drive Marco Polo Horizon in Great Britain and Japan come spring.
A new Marco Polo highlight is an available nine-speaker Jehnert sound system that bridges the gap between on-road and at-camp uses with "driving" and "living" modes. In driving mode, the system fires music at the driver and front passenger, whereas living mode distributes it throughout the camper cabin. The system also connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing occupants to control it from around the van, whether sitting in a seat, lying in the pop-up roof bed or hanging out under the outdoor awning. The Jehnert option will go live in April.
The CMT show starts on January 13, and we'll be bringing you more new camper news as it gets underway.
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