The main ‘living zone’ of the Marco Polo is the area behind the front seats which stretches rearwards to the boot. The living zone contains a pair of motorized chairs and an extremely well-designed side leisure unit comprising fridge, 2-burner hob, sink, cupboards and a table. The functionality of the side unit is shamelessly ripped off from the VW California, but you can’t improve on perfection right? We’ll cover the side unit in detail later on in this blog post.
When its being driven the standard Marco Polo can accommodate a driver and three passengers (four seat-belted chairs in total). An additional chair can be added to the options list to allow five travelers, but the hassle of clipping this extra chair in and out when making up the bed seems non-ideal. Where do you put it? In our view it may be a better idea to order the Marco Polo Horizon if you need to transport The Famous Five – the Horizon is a similar V-Class based camper which has a wider downstairs bed formed from three chairs. However it loses the awesome side kitchen unit. Note: on further reflection I realized that if you were to transport the Famous Five you would require six seats, but perhaps that’s taking pedantry to a new level……
The Gorgeous Side Kitchen
For us this is what the camping experience is all about. You’re sat in one of the four chairs on offer and you feel a bit peckish – food, hob, cutlery and plates are all at hand and there’s also even a tiny sink and tap with cold water to rinse your dirty dishes with pumped water from a tank.
And boy does this side unit look great – glass doors with shiny aluminium surrounds are used to decorate the fridge, cooker and sink. The lower drawers use high quality plastics and a contrasting colour to really ramp up the sexy look. All the doors and drawers include a slow-close mechanism which wouldn’t be out of place in a bespoke kitchen at home. Behind the kitchen unit are a couple of windows, one of which can slide open to let in some fresh air (or let out your cooking aromas to the outside world!). Let’s take a look at each kitchen component in detail….
Cool as a cucumber – the Marco Polo fridge
The Mercedes Marco Polo packs a really useful 40 litres of coolbox space (about 1.4 cubic feet in the old imperial measurements). This is a reasonable amount of room to store a few days of food, but it cannot compare with the larger fridges found on bigger motorhomes/caravans.
The Marco Polo coolbox is electrically powered via the onboard leisure battery and can be set to one of five different levels of coolbox. We’ve run the fridge on level 2 for three full days and nights on pure battery power without requiring a recharge – level 2 is cool enough to keep your items fresh. Any longer on battery and you need to find a 240V mains electrical hookup to charge it up. The traditional motorhomes also offer gas power for the fridge and this isn’t an option on the Marco Polo which is a bit of a shame. However the fridge achieves it’s design objective pretty well of keeping items cold and fresh and should be considered a decent effort. It’s worth noting that some owners have reported getting a touch of condensation in there after a few days. In a future article we’ll look at some hacks in helping avoid this.
Let’s burn some gas – the Marco Polo hob cooks!
So you’ve just whipped your sausage out… of the coolbox and it’s time to start cooking. The Mercedes comes with a pretty standard two-burner hob, with the gas supplied from a canister which is stored in a cupboard at the back of the van. Each burner has independent control of the amount of gas flow and there is an in-built igniter to set things alight! Keith Flint would’ve loved it.
Some owners have reported that using the burners on high heat can warp the glass of the surrounding fridge and sink covers – however we’ve not found this to happen in two years of ownership. Perhaps we’re too miserly with our gas flow! Overall, the hobs work well and they are located at just the right part of the worktop space – we regularly use ours when we’re not cooking outside.
Is this the tiniest sink in the world?
The sink in the Marco Polo is a bit of a joke in all honesty. It certainly looks the business when cleaned up – a lovely reflective silver bowl nestled in a black glass worktop. The tap is folded down when the sink door is closed, but can be swiveled up for use. Water gets pumped from the onboard tank (filled from outside near the electrical hookup point) into the sink and then subsequently drained into an onboard waste tank.
A major issue is that the sink just isn’t big enough. You can probably just about swill out your coffee cup or brush your teeth in an emergency, but you’re never going to be able to wash a full set of used dishes with aplomb! Nice try Mercedes, but I think i would have preferred a bigger fridge! That being said, it could be considered a useful touch to have a ready supply of water available for boiling to make cups of tea – I knew there had to be something good about that sink! 🙂
Table service on the side
The Westfalia engineers were clever when they designed the Marco Polo for Mercedes. They left a tiny gap between the side kitchen unit and the rear chairs. This gap just so happened to be the perfect width to house a very neat table top which unfolds nicely to provide table space for all four inhabitants of the rear lounge area.
With the front seats rotated, the roof raised, the mood lighting on and the table raised with a bottle of wine resting upon it I defy you to find a better place to congratulate yourselves in the entire world of campervanning. Well okay, maybe a Winnebago wins on the indulgence stakes, but I’m not sure I’d swap. We just cannot hide our love for the Mercedes Marco Polo here at Camping Secrets.