Mercedes serves up van campers in three flavors
By C.C. Weiss
October 5, 2013
Mercedes-Benz may not have as timeless a name in van camping as Volkswagen, but it does offer several popular platforms for van camper conversions. In fact, it claims that its Sprinter van is the number one base vehicle for luxury campers. The German manufacturer recently showcased three camper conversions of its own using both the Sprinter and Viano platforms.
Showcasing the new Sprinter van, and its roomy, high-roofed potential for camper conversions, seemed to be Mercedes' primary goal at last month's Dusseldorf Caravan Salon. It used a sort of half-van in the form of a Sprinter stripped of its siding from the middle of the front passenger door to the rear axle as its main showpiece.
By cutting away the van's side, Mercedes was able to place focus entirely on the clean, white interior. The open-air cabin includes a bench seat that transforms into a double bed and a kitchen area on the other side. The front driver and passenger seats swivel around to serve as living and dining seating. The materials selection of white leather seating, high gloss white furniture finish, and gray laminate flooring was made to give the Sprinter camper the feel of a yacht. The interior also has Alcantara trim, LED lighting, and a combination bathroom/wardrobe in the tailgate.
Mercedes revealed the revised 2014 Sprinter van earlier this year. The new model receives updated exterior styling, a new 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine as standard, a seven-speed automatic transmission, an upgraded interior and new available driver assistance systems such as Crosswind Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. For camper conversion companies, Mercedes offers the Sprinter with a camper van package that includes a passenger airbag and a folding handbrake lever designed to prevent collision with the swivel seats when the handbrake is deployed.
Viano Marco Polo, a Mercedes Westie
The Viano Marco Polo, which Mercedes showed in two versions, was built with the help of Westfalia Van Conversion, which had a third model on display at its own booth. Based upon the middle-sized Viano model, the Marco Polo comes standard with a pop-up roof. The driver's side includes a fully stocked kitchenette with a stove, sink, water system, refrigerator and cupboards. There's also additional storage space, including a wardrobe closet. The Marco Polo's rear bench is actually two individual electrically adjusted seats that can recline and flatten down into horizontal position. The seats also include an electro-pneumatic side bolster system that provides better lateral support and shaping, a comfort aimed at long road trips.
Mercedes showed the Viano Marco Polo in flint grey metallic with a 163-hp, 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder and 4Matic all-wheel drive, and in mountain crystal white with a 224-hp 3.0-liter V6 CDI. The latter model was built in standard rear-wheel drive. Both models included automatic transmissions, bi-xenon headlamps, Tempmatic air conditioning, 17-inch light-alloy wheels, Audio 50 APS navigation systems, and window bags for driver and front passenger.
The Marco Polo Edition starts at €54,538 (US$73,900), and Mercedes listed the final price of the CDI 3.0 version at €70,381.36 and of the CDI 2.2 version at €61,489.68.
The Mercedes Viano Fun comes in both five- and seven-seat varieties. Like a number of the other van campers we saw in Dusseldorf, the Viano Fun features a rail-mounted seating system that makes the interior layout super flexible. The seats can quickly slide into different positions and be removed completely. In camper format, they're arranged around a fold-out table. The rear seats fold flat to create a sleeping platform, and an optional pop-up roof can serve to hold additional sleepers.
Bonus: HRZ Freedom
Mercedes claims that its vans are in hot demand around the world by camper conversion outfitters, stating that it sends around 4,000 vans a year to converters in North America. The German luxury marque definitely had a strong presence in Dusseldorf, beyond just its own booth. We ran into plenty of other Mercedes-based camper vans in Dusseldorf, including a few brutish off-roaders.
The final camper van with Mercedes badge we have in our photo collection, the HRZ Freedom is similar in look and feel to the HRZ Sahara we previously covered. It is the result of camper-izing a high-roofed Sprinter, and it includes all-wheel drive and mud tires. The Freedom offers seating for three or four, a fixed rear bed, a generous amount of rear storage, a washroom with sink and toilet, and a kitchen with 90-liter compressor fridge, double-burner stove and sink.
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