Scroll and zoom the image above to see the beautiful interior
Sometimes it just makes sense to get to the point – Jeremy Clarkson take note – this is certainly one of those cases. The interior of the Marco Polo is an exquisite place to spend some time in. That’s all that really needs to be said, and you could argue that there’s not much point in reading any more of my earnest attempts at quality journalism – instead you could just take a look at the photographs on our site – they demonstrate the delightful reality better than words ever could!
Sitting in the Marco Polo is akin to stepping into the glossy pages of a trendy home furnishings magazine. It’s what sold the van to us after a lifetime of tents and caravans, and to our minds it blows the socks off competitors such as the VW California in terms of a luxury feel. Oodles of leather, shiny aluminium and carbon combine to stunning effect with sumptuous mood lighting setting a wonderful ambience. That being said, the California is great at what it does – it feels more rugged, with a utilitarian outdoorsy/sporty feel which may appeal to some sensibilities. However it cannot be denied that the Marco Polo manages to feel more opulent than motorhomes costing double the price. In short, if you’re thinking about branching into the world of campervans then you must sit in and experience the Marco Polo.
So why don’t you go and grab yourself a coffee (and maybe a nice sticky bun too), and we’ll delve into describing our experiences and impressions relating to the two main functional areas of the Marco Polo: a) the front driving area (covered here) and b) the rear living area and leisure facilities covered here.
Front seating and dashboard
Sliding your rump behind the contoured steering wheel immediately seers a large imprint of the word ‘quality’ into the nether regions of your brain. The seat is supportive and comfortable, with three levels of bottom-heating magic available to warm both passenger and driver on cold morning starts. Before progressing, it’s worth bearing in mind here that the Marco Polo front seats are only manually adjustable position-wise, with the occupant having to squeeze a rail underneath the front of the relevant chair to allow ‘back n forth’ adjustment, or alternatively rotate a wheel on the side of the chair to change the backrest angle. This is because the chairs are fully rotatable (more of that later) and also house both the leisure battery and optional diesel air heater underneath them – adding bulky motors for movement on top may have been an engineering design step too far. That being said, using these manual controls does feel a little primitive when the rest of the extensive features are so effortless.
Take to the road
The ultimate compliment that can be paid to the dashboard of any campervan or motorhome is that it doesn’t make you feel like you’re just about to embark on a warehouse delivery run – i.e. it shouldn’t feel like a van! This is certainly the case with the Marco Polo – the cockpit feels very similar to a modern Mercedes C-Class car, and actually drives quite similarly too. The seating position is slightly higher than the car though which gives good visibility through the large windscreen.
Comand and Control
The dashboard itself is ergonomically shaped with the large Comand (optional) or Garmin (standard) display screen drawing the eye at the top of the centre console.
From 2021, the Marco Polo will feature the Mercedes MBUX infotainment system with a large touchscreen for entertainment and navigation.
The Comand/Garmin/MBux systems are the hub of the car’s control system – allowing your music, navigation and car settings to be controlled reasonably easily using a control wheel below it.
Our ‘Camping Secrets’ Marco Polo is equipped with the basic Garmin system, which seems to provide decent navigation – however it can sometimes take 30 seconds or so to generate the route details which does seem frustratingly slow – bigger CPU needed! The Comand is certainly a better system and possesses a larger screen, but at several thousand pounds premium. We found that using Google Maps on our phone with bluetooth audio directions was just as good and meant we could spend that cash on other options.
Climate Control – too cool for school
The Marco Polo dash boasts four vents for climate controlled air to escape, and the temperature can be chosen independently for the passenger and driver ‘zones’. We found that typically you find yourselves wanting them set to similar levels, and that the independence is a bit of a gimmick – still nice to think you can create a temperature gradient if you so desire.
The aircon can also be piped through into the rear of the motorhome and this can be adjusted again using the control wheel. The risk of getting desiccated when it’s roasting hot outside is vanishingly small in the MP.
From 2021, the Marco Polo will incorporate a networked system called MBAC (Mercedes Benz Advanced Control). This will allow all of the functionality of the living space area of the campervan to be controlled either from the dashboard, or from a smartphone app. We haven’t yet had an opportunity to test this out, but will report back as soon as we have.
The look of love…
Overall, the front driving area is a great place to sit. The use of contrasting leather against the dark carbon-fibre dash looks elegant and there are also different colours of ‘mood lighting’ available to set. The seats are comfort personified and make journeys a joy. The slightly slow Garmin and clunky control wheel can be overlooked in our opinion – this is a great place to exist for a long journey to your destination. Top marks Mercedes!
Next stop – move on to our post describing the living area of the Mercedes Marco Polo.