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 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.
It’s worth pointing out that, although its roof pops up; in its normal, closed position the Marco Polo’s height comes in under the two-metre mark. In other words – it should fit into most underground car parks and garages.
But while this interior is much like what we’ve seen before, the engine and gearbox are all-new. Gone is the rattly 2.1-litre diesel engine from the pre-facelift model, replaced by this superior 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel paired with Mercedes' 9G-Tronic transmission. It’s not just the difference in pace that’s noticeable – this is an impressively strong, gutsy engine – but rather the huge leap forwards in refinement. NVH all round is better, with the gently idling diesel a welcome replacement for the gruff 2.1-litre. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is slick and not easily flustered, with those two extra ratios greatly helping cruising refinement.
The Marco Polo is, though, still based on the Vito van and, as a result, has an agricultural feel to it. After all, attempting to create a polished, premium product using such humble underpinnings is a bit like fitting a brand new designer kitchen into a house that’s about to fall down. There is a fairly constant shimmy in the chassis over undulating roads, and a fair bit of clunking suspension noise to go with it, even with the adaptive dampers that are standard on all UK models.
The brake pedal feel is far from perfect – there’s a lot of travel in it before anything seems to happen, but then stopping something that tips the scales at a monstrous 2487kg effectively is no simple feat. The steering is light, smooth and accurate, but there is – predictably – a big old lean through fast corners. But then, you won’t be tearing around B-roads for fear of redecorating its interior with your freshly cooked breakfast. If you gently shuffle from one picturesque campsite to another, you’ll have little to complain about dynamically, although you’ll still be very aware that this is a vehicle with commercial vehicle roots.