There are a few names that come to mind when talking about the history of the motorhome or compact camper van. One of these names has been Marco Polo for 40 years now. Initially based on the "Bremen Transporter" and since 2015 as the V-Class Marco Polo. We take a look back on the occasion of the anniversary and into the future.

In the 1980s, the first Marco Polo was one of the compact motorhomes that set standards for the segment. It was characterised by its imposing bonnet, Bahama beige paintwork and beige-brown interior. As the base vehicle of the T1 was initially produced in Bremen, it was nicknamed the "Bremen Transporter". With a height of 2.97 metres, the first Marco Polo was an imposing sight.

A facelift followed in 1988, but the living concept of the Marco Polo remained unchanged from the first generation. It still included a roof bed, a bench seat combination in the rear, swivelling seats for the driver and front passenger, a kitchenette with sink, cooker and refrigerator as well as cupboard and drawer modules.

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo turns 40

By reducing the height to less than two metres and introducing a folding roof, the second generation of the Marco Polo based on the Vito van became significantly more garage-friendly in 1996. At the same time, the passenger compartment had to become more functional. The seat/bed combination in the rear is mounted on a rail system and can be moved. The cupboards are fitted with roller shutters. The table could be stowed in the sliding door cover and free access to the rear was made possible by a foot-operated parking brake. A facelift followed here too. The time had come in 1999.

In 2003, the third generation of the Marco Polo, based on the Viano, made further progress in terms of functionality. New features included an electrically operated folding roof, a roof bed with point-elastic spring elements and a bench seat with electrically folding backrests and air cushions in the seat supports for better lateral support. The facelift was then due in 2010.

Since 2015, the Marco Polo has been presented in its current form based on the V-Class. The fourth generation sets new standards in terms of aesthetics and comfort. Highlights include the yacht-style floor covering, LED ambient interior lighting and a large selection of high-quality decorative and upholstery elements.

With the 2019 facelift and subsequent updates, the Marco Polo also offered more technology, including the MBUX multimedia system and the MBAC (Mercedes-Benz Advanced Control) motorhome control system, which transforms the vehicle into a smart home. The very latest version of the Marco Polo V-Class was launched in summer 2023 and is celebrating its market premiere this year.

Der neue Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo wurde auf der V-Klasse gebaut

Last year, a camping module for the Citan Tourer and the T-Class was added to the Marco Polo family. The module is located in the boot of the vehicle and is secured with lashing eyes. It consists of a standard bed for two people and an optional kitchen block with sink and gas bottle cooker. A cool box can also be fitted on request. Other optional equipment includes an additional battery, a bed package with blackout elements and ventilation grilles with mosquito nets for the windows and window pockets, as well as a camping table with chairs.

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T-Klasse mit Marco-Polo-Modul

One of the key topics for the future of the Marco Polo is electromobility. The step into the electric future will be the new platform VAN.EA, which is modular and scalable and will be introduced from 2026. This will also electrify and expand the motorhome portfolio. Based on the VAN.EA, Mercedes-Benz will offer fully electric motorhomes in medium and large sizes in the future.