Review: Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo

Occasionally we like to feature reviews of products on Simple Family Travel which could be useful to our readers.  In today’s post we feature a review by Pamela Penman.  Pamela lives in Central Switzerland, and when she’s not traveling with her family of four she is busy being a Life Coach, Editor, and Marketing Consultant at Form Consultancy GmbH.

After listening to me go on incessantly about camping and camper vans, Pamela took the plunge and tried camping for the first time in her adult life.  Pamela and her husband rented a Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo for the long holiday weekend and she writes about her experience with this versatile and fun vehicle.  As I’ve mentioned previously, we are thinking very seriously about buying a camper van, so we were really excited that she took the time to review it for us.

Before she set out on her holiday she found it difficult to find the kind of information she wanted to find about the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo, so she wrote a review in order to help others who are considering the purchase of a camper van.  This review was spontaneous, 100% independent, and not sponsored in any way.  Pamela and her husband rented the camper van from Moby Campers in Solothurn and reports that they had excellent service and delivered to her a well maintained and clean vehicle.


The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo

Ticks all the boxes.  Even those you didn’t know you had.

The time is quickly approaching that we’ll need a new vehicle.  With two kids and a healthy appetite for travel, my husband and I decided to road test the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo last week over the long weekend.  


We wanted to rough it, without really roughing it.


When I initially brought the idea up to Hubs, he looked at me like I was crazy.   I get that.  I’m the gal who hasn’t camped since Girl Scouts, and who is known to sleep with her clothes ON in the event that the hotel feels a little smarmy to me.  But this was somehow different.  The value proposition is clear:  take your own home with you, along with all its creature comforts (and clean sheets and fluffy pillows), park somewhere, and be one with nature.  Without really rouging it.  That was the part that most appealed to me.

“We don’t need a kitchen in our new car, “ Hubs suggested.  “If we try this thing out, it will be for the ride and the performance of the vehicle.”

I agreed.  After all, who needs a kitchen in their every day vehicle?  They make drive-thrus for that, right?

So we set off, electric espresso machine in hand, along with goose down duvets, a gourmet cheese platter, and a lovely selection of French wines, because we were now off to the Land Without Drive-thrus. 


It was difficult to get me to give up the wheel.


I was the first driver.  Man did this thing feel good.  I’m a petite thing, not a centimeter over 154—and the visibility from the driver’s seat of the Marco Polo was amazing.  I easily judged distances all around the car and had a clear view out the rear.  The back-up camera had better resolution than my new iPad.  And the seats were super comfy.  Comfy enough for a 10-hour drive—and I drove about 8 hours of that.  No tailbone pain that I usually get when the drive starts to push 2 hours.

“Do I get a turn?” Hubs asked.

“Yes, of course,” I lied.  “Let’s just wait until we need fuel.”  Which we didn’t.  For a long time.  The fuel economy was nothing short of amazing, and we averaged an impressive 6.5l/100km throughout the trip.  With air conditioning, even.  


We’ve never camped before.  How difficult would this be to set up?


When we got to camp, set up was a breeze.  Hubs opened the roof deck to expose the bed up top, and we gained an airy space that made a huge difference as we moved around the cabin to set up lunch.  He connected us to the electric supply, placed the thermal shades on the windscreen and driver and passenger windows and we were ready to rock and roll.

It was now time to see how cold the refrigerator kept our food, and if that gas stove really did work.  

Yes to everything.

We were able to cook a beautiful lunch easily on the gas stove, and there was even a handy little fold out table that gave me some extra counter space where I could do prep and set out our little buffet.  The family voted for breakfast for lunch—and so I fried up some bacon, did some soft boiled and fried eggs, and even made some toast in the toaster that I am sure everyone takes with them when they go camping.  

I was concerned about the cabin having horrible stale food odors after preparing a meal, but my concerns were unfounded.  There’s adequate (more than adequate) ventilation with the sliding door open, the side window open and the glass hatch open.  No smells remained after our lunch, and nothing was detectable the next day.  I even gave our camping neighbors a little quiz when they came out to check our super cool vehicle out—and no, they couldn’t smell anything either.   

In addition to a wonderful 2 burner cooker, there’s a fridge as I had mentioned and a sink connected to an onboard water tank.  Since we were at a serviced “glamping” site, we didn’t need to touch the sink, but boy were the fridge and cooker wonderful.  


There is a place for everything.  Even a fifth passenger.


The downside to the 2016 Marco Polo is that there are only 2 seats in the rear for a total of four seats in the vehicle.  However, in the new 2017 models, you can now order a 5th seat that would come in very handy in our every day life.  That seat is removable, which you’d need to do in order to take advantage of the kitchen and the lower bed.  

Speaking of beds, it’s kind of magical the way the rear seats move forward and then lie flat to create a roomy bed for two people.  Our only complaint was that the bed was quite hard, but I understand that you can also get a lovely topper as an add-on to make it softer.  Put that on the list.

In the rear of the vehicle under the bed, accessible from the rear tailgate, is more storage for a table and chairs, a portable gas grill, your electric cables, and so much more.  We stuck in beach towels, an extra gas canister, and a beach ball.  And a toaster, espresso machine, and kettle.  Don’t tell anyone.

The upper bed was amazing.  I was shocked to find out how comfortable it was—and with two zip-down flaps on either side of the pop-up, we enjoyed a nice mosquito-free breeze every evening.

Storage was well thought out and more than adequate.  No need for suitcases or bags—there are cubbyholes galore in which to hang clothes and store folded clothes along with the other items you’ll need.  The cabinets under the sink and stovetop were perfect.  They held a service for six along with storage for staples such as condiments, seasoning, oil, coffee, and tea.  Everything we needed for our trip was easily stored within the space provided.

Every day was a bit of a new adventure as we learned our way around the vehicle.  We found new space and cleverly placed hooks, storage ledges, and USB ports in very convenient places.  

When night rolled around, we pulled down the shades located on each window in the rear to create a nice dark cabin.  We slept remarkably well, and awoke the next morning refreshed.  I fired up the kettle and then the espresso machine and we had tea and coffee outside of our cabin in the fresh seaside air.  Bliss.


How necessary is that kitchen?


Do you really need a vehicle with a kitchen?  We didn’t think so, but it ticked a box for us that we didn’t realize we had until we used it.  Everything was at hand for the kids, and the convenience factor was a big plus.  I can easily see using the fridge during the summer months when I have to run errands after doing the grocery shopping.  No need to worry about that meat going bad.

Most importantly, by having a kitchen you don’t really give anything up.  Above and beyond the convenience and luxury of having a built-in kitchen when camping, this vehicle is a well-planned, luxurious, convenient, every day family vehicle, too.  There is a load of storage space, and Mercedes-Benz was able to pack off of this into a van that stands under 2 meters, and that fits in a normal parking space at the mall.  It’s easy to maneuver and park, and has a tight turning radius.  

The Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo is an easy to drive luxury vehicle disguised as a camper van.  There is simply no way to beat the combination of luxury camping facilities with a practical every day vehicle.  You’ll enjoy driving the Marco Polo during the week to run errands, and you’ll be waiting by the door, camping box in hand when the weekend rolls around.  Trust me.

For the active family who enjoys traveling and exploring, and who want the ability to get away at the last minute, but who still want a practical yet luxurious vehicle to get the job done during the week, the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ticks all the boxes.  

Even those you didn’t know you had.