Mercedes-Benz Vans displayed camper van concepts based on its new pickup, the X-Class with a demountable cabin from bodybuilder Tischer as well as a conversion concept with integrated kitchen system by VanEssa mobilcamping. Furthermore, the brand with the three-pointed star shows the complete Marco Polo family the compact Marco Polo travel van as well as the recreational vehicles Marco Polo ACTIVITY and Marco Polo HORIZON, a right-hand drive version of which will be coming on to the market in 2018.
Simply to set off and to stop and stay where the fancy takes you: flexibility and independence are the most powerful motives for customers deciding to purchase a camper van. Between January and October 2017 almost 38,000 new vehicles were registered across all classes of camper vans, according to the German Caravanning Industry Association. That is some 5,000 more than in the same period of the previous year.
Customers these days also tend to use their homes on wheels for trips to remoter regions that lie off the beaten track. From the Scottish Highlands to remote passes through Romania’s Carpathian Mountains to sunrises at the Plage Blanche in Morocco: camping has become an adventure and a chance to enjoy nature to the fullest. Campers need two things for this: a vehicle with off-road capability, which is also comfortable for long journeys cross-country, and a living area with all vital essentials. Pickups with camper van solutions on board meet these requirements, and thus find their fan base. In many cases the mobile home section can be demounted in a few easy steps, leaving the pickup to function as a straightforward vehicle for everyday use.
The new X-Class fits perfectly into this usage profile, setting new standards as it does so. It combines the typical characteristics of a pickup with the classic strengths of a Mercedes. As a pickup it is robust, strong and with good off-road capability. At the same time its good looks and individualization options, its comfort, safety features and networking capability are typical Mercedes-Benz passenger car qualities.
With its wide track, coil springs at the front and rear, long wheelbase and the comfortable spring and damping system typical of Mercedes, the X-Class delivers exhilarating performance, both on and off road. Two four-cylinder engines deliver the necessary dynamism with an output of 120 kW (fuel consumption combined: 7.6-7.4 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 200-195 g/km) and an output of 140 kW (fuel consumption combined: 7.9-7.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 207-192 g/km).
They can be ordered with either rear-wheel drive or with the engage able 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. From mid-2018 a high-torque V6 diesel engine with all-wheel drive as standard will provide even more agility. The outstanding traction of the all-wheel drive models comes courtesy of the low-range gearing and an optional differential lock on the rear axle. A fording depth of up to 600 mm, a ground clearance of as much as 222 mm (optional suspension with raised ground clearance), a maximum grade ability of 100 percent and DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) mean that the X-Class is ideally equipped to cope on even the most challenging of trails. With a towing capacity of up to 3.5 t, it is also capable of towing a wide variety of trailers, including caravans.
Like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the X-Class stands out for its exemplary level of safety. Its high level of occupant protection results from its especially solid car body with a high-strength passenger cell and a structure with a front and rear that can absorb energy through well-aimed deformation. Furthermore, passive safety is provided thanks to standard equipment such as seven airbags and the i-Size attachment system for two child seats. For active safety, three driver assistance systems are at the ready: Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Traffic Sign Assist. Additionally, there are Trailer Stability Assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, emergency call system, cruise control and LED headlamps. If required, a reversing camera or even a 360-Degree Camera is available. Given this extensive level of equipment, the X-Class perfectly fulfils the requirements placed on a modern family and lifestyle vehicle.
In visual terms, the X-Class takes its cues from the Mercedes SUV models, with centrally positioned star, twin-louvre radiator grille, high and powerfully honed bonnet and the headlamps extending far into the wings. The Mercedes-Benz design idiom continues in the interior. The X-Class offers a compelling combination of open spaciousness and puristic modernity. And there’s no shortage of comfort, either. Optimum lateral support, a high seating position and ergonomically shaped cushions ensure that both the driver and the front passenger can enjoy the ride, even over long distances. Precise suspension tuning, specific structural reinforcements on the frame and body shell as well as a comprehensive seal concept ensure that noise and vibration levels are comparable with those of a passenger car.
A communication module with integrated SIM card furthermore makes it possible to use the extensive range of Mercedes me connect services and to access the vehicle by smartphone. Individualization is catered for by three design and equipment lines (PURE, PROGRESSIVE and POWER) and by an accessories range developed by Mercedes-Benz.
Despite its compact size, the demountable cabin from bodybuilder Tischer offers a comfortable sleeping system in an alcove 150 cm wide, headroom of almost two meters, a kitchen with a 3-burner gas stove and three cozy seats. The latter can be converted into a second bed in just a few simple steps. With its large, fold-away wash basin and swiveling toilet unit, the integrated bathroom manages to offer enough space to take a shower. The sandwich design of the cabin sections ensures reliable stability and excellent insulation properties.
A different concept on the basis of the X-Class has been developed by VanEssa mobilcamping: a heavy-duty pull-out module weighing around 250 kg with a fully equipped kitchen – including such features as a cool box, cooking and washing-up facilities as well as space for crockery and supplies. A second pull-out module offers even more space for further items. VanEssa protects the load compartment with a cover made out of yacht-deck-look teak wood, a water-resistant material particularly characterized by its strength and durability. Special pneumatic struts allow the cover to be propped up at an angle of 45 degrees. For trips over several days, VanEssa advises the fitting of a roof tent with rear-facing entrance.
Also on display on the Mercedes booth at the CMT, alongside the X-Class, is the complete Marco Polo family – in each case as an EDITION model with a host of extras as standard, all at an attractive price: a Marco Polo EDITION in mountain crystal white metallic, a Marco Polo HORIZON EDITION in brilliant silver metallic and a Marco Polo ACTIVITY EDITION in flint grey metallic.
New for the compact Marco Polo travel van from April 2018 is a sound system with nine speakers, including a subwoofer and a 5-channel DSP amplifier, for the perfect audio experience. What is particularly interesting for campers: the Jehnert sound system offers a choice of two sound set-ups. With the “Driving” set-up, the music is specifically aimed in the direction of the driver and front passenger; with the “Living” set-up, the sound is additionally extended to the rear of the vehicle. Thanks to a Bluetooth port, the Jehnert sound system can be controlled from a smartphone – without the need for the head unit to be switched on. As a consequence, the new sound system can be operated from any of the seats, from the roof bed or from beneath the awning of the Marco Polo.