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A cheap house or an expensive car? A facelift to Mercedes’ luxury campervan brings some welcome engine updates

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This is a well-presented two-bedroom detached house with a newly fitted kitchen and dining area, with yacht wood flooring, situated in the heart of anywhere you care to park it. You get the idea.

The Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo is a bite-size luxury property on wheels, and it’s just had a few updates as part of a facelift for the entire V-Class MPV range.

The V-Class has never been a bargain. A PCP finance deal might still be cheaper than property rent in London – but not by much.

Chief among them – a very welcome refresh in the engine and gearbox department. The OM654 four-cylinder diesel engine from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Mercedes-Benz CLS, with two power outputs (220d and 300d), is now available, along with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox.

Elsewhere in the V-Class lineup, automatic emergency braking is now standard and the styling has been tweaked inside and out. So, have those changes turned the Marco Polo into a must-have holiday adventure vehicle?

Well, it’s not short on passenger space, that’s for sure. It’s more than five metres long and has a three-metre wheelbase, but, when you clamber into the back, you will still be amazed at the amount of stuff they’ve been able to cram in. There’s seating for four, with rear seats that fold down into a double bed, and a pop up roof that allows space for another double bed on the makeshift ‘second-floor’. There's also a full-on kitchen installation with a sink, gas hob, fridge and plenty of cupboards and storage compartments.

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The end result is a living space that is significantly more glamorous than most university halls' of residence, and that offers endless opportunities for #lifestyle advertisements that feature handsome windswept blonde couples with guitars and surfboards.

All this will be familiar to anyone with the pre-facelift Marco Polo, though, so what’s actually new? Well, not a great deal. There’s some new upholsteries, a new front-end design, some new paint colours and alloy wheels, but, these days, the dashboard design feels a step behind the flashy widescreen interiors you'll find in Mercedes' new Mercedes-Benz A-Class and GLE. There’s not even the option of a fully digital driver's display. On top of that, the fiddly panel that controls such features as the roof and auxiliary heating feels jarringly ‘retro’, complete with its Nokia 6610-style pixelated screen.

Then there’s the price, but the V-Class has never been a bargain. It’ll hold its value well, but the initial outlay is still pretty eye watering. A PCP finance deal might still be cheaper than property rent in London – but not by much. 

If you want to spend a little less, the Marco Polo Horizon is an option; it comes with the two beds but not the kitchen. The Volkswagen California, meanwhile, is the obvious, cheaper campervan competitor and offers the same lifestyle getaway opportunities for less money. But if you’re willing to pay extra for a posh badge on the nose and a slight lift in perceived quality inside, the Marco Polo still appeals.

Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo First drives