Camper van comparison test: verdict

The Volkswagen California, Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo and Ford Transit Nugget really do let you take everything with you, including the kitchen sink. But which is best?...

Camper van comparison test rears

Our verdict

It’s the Nugget that brings up the rear in this test. While some will appreciate the separation of the kitchen from the lounge area, we prefer the more conventional layout of the other campers here; there’s a reason it’s the norm. The Nugget is also let down by its crude driving experience and low-rent interior.

The California gets the runner-up spot, impressing with its tidy handling, comfortable lower bed and plentiful storage space. However, it’s the priciest to buy and has a noisy engine, while you’ll need a fair bit of muscle to change the interior layout when it’s bedtime.

That leaves the Marco Polo to take the victory. It’s the most car-like to drive and the one that you’ll be happiest racking up the miles in, and it works very well as a camper when you get to your destination. It’s the easiest to convert into a bedroom and has by far the classiest, most appealing interior, whether you’re up front or out back. The fact that it’s the cheapest to buy (after discounts) seals the deal.

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1st – Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo

Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo 2021 front

For Comfiest ride; most refined; classiest interior; easy to make lower bed; best driving position; cheapest to buy after discounts
Against Slowest; bottom bed is a bit lumpy; smartphone mirroring extra
Recommended options Awning (£820)

What Car? rating 5 stars out of 5

Read our full Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo review >>

Find Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo deals >>

2nd – Volkswagen California Ocean

Volkswagen California Ocean 2021 front

For Most assured handling; best acceleration; best infotainment; most economical
Against Firmest ride; noisiest; priciest; dim-witted gearbox
Recommended options Metallic paint (£762), electric sliding door (£378)

What Car? rating 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Volkswagen California review >>

Find Volkswagen California deals >>

3rd – Ford Transit Custom Nugget

Ford Transit Custom Nugget 2021 front

For Cheapest on PCP finance; strong engine; easy upper bed access
Against Poor ride and handling; least practical kitchen layout; cumbersome lower bed; thirstiest; poor interior quality
Recommended options Metallic paint (£780), adaptive cruise control/AEB (£600)

What Car? rating 3 stars out of 5

Read our full Ford Transit Custom Nugget review >>


Specification: Volkswagen California Ocean 2.0 TDI 150

Volkswagen California Ocean 2021 upper bed access

Engine 4cyl, 1968cc, diesel
Peak power 148bhp @ 3250-3750rpm
Peak torque 251lb ft @ 1500-3000rpm
Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic
0-60mph 12.1sec
30-70mph 12.5sec
Top speed 113mph
30-0mph 9.9m
70-0mph 53.6m
Noise @ 30mph 63.5dB
Noise @ 70 mph 68.3dB
Kerb weight 2571kg
Wheels/tyres (std) 215/60 R17
Fuel tank 70 litres
Test economy 33.5mpg
Official economy 35.2mpg
CO2 emissions 211g/km

Specification: Ford Transit Custom Nugget

Ford Transit Custom Nugget 2021 upper bed access

Engine 4cyl, 1995cc, diesel
Peak power 182bhp @ 3500rpm
Peak torque 299lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox 6-spd automatic
0-60mph 12.2sec
30-70mph 12.7sec
Top speed 110mph
30-0mph 10.4m
70-0mph 55.7m
Noise @ 30mph 62.5dB
Noise @ 70 mph 68.1dB
Kerb weight 2167kg
Wheels/tyres (std) 215/65 R16
Fuel tank 70 litres
Test economy 29.5mpg
Official economy 36.6mpg
CO2 emissions 230g/km

Specification: Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo V220d Sport

Mercedes V-Class Marco Polo 2021 upper bed access

Engine 4cyl, 1950cc, diesel
Peak power 161bhp @ 4200rpm
Peak torque 280lb ft @ 1600-2400rpm
Gearbox 9-spd automatic
0-60mph 12.9sec
30-70mph 13.6sec
Top speed 119mph
30-0mph 9.4m
70-0mph 49.8m
Noise @ 30mph 61.5dB
Noise @ 70 mph h 67.4dB
Kerb weight 2487kg
Wheels/tyres (std) 245/45 R19
Fuel tank 70 litres
Test economy 32.1mpg
Official economy 36.7mpg
CO2 emissions 204g/km

Weather conditions Dry

Vehicles pictured

Volkswagen California Ocean 2.0 TDI 150 with Candy White and Bay Leaf Green paint (£2880), Driver Assistance Package Plus (£780), Discover Pro navigation (£678), comfort sleeping mat (£318) and tyre pressure monitoring (£174)

Ford Transit Custom Nugget L1 2.0 Ecoblue 185 with Magnetic metallic paint (£780), Visibility Pack Premium (£1008), ICE Pack 25 (£912) and tow bar (£390)

Mercedes-Benz V220d Marco Polo AMG Line with Rock Crystal white metallic paint, Comand online (£1890), side awning (£820) and Parking Package (£350)

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