Motoring: Caught on a straight drive: Off to play cricket, Roger Bell attempts 1,100 miles on an Audi A6's tankful

At L'Echelette Cricket Club, near Tournus in Burgundy, a watery ditch bisects the prettiest cricket field in France. A 'catch in the gully' takes on a new meaning for fielders unwise enough to keep their eye on the ball.

And if le match was to be a challenge, why not make getting there another? Could we do the return journey, spouse and I, without refuelling?

We would have to take a diesel car because no petrol-powered one has a range anything like sufficient. From our home in Selsey, West Sussex, to Tournus and back was, according to the map, about 1,100 miles.

Most petrol cars have a range of 300-400 miles. Diesel derivatives will go further: same tank size, better economy. Small, slow diesels may be more frugal than big, fast ones but they invariably have disproportionately smaller tanks. It's generally the larger, more expensive turbodiesels that have the capacity to shrink continents.

According to my calculations, only five cars are theoretically capable of doing more than 1,000 miles without refuelling. Two of the long-hoppers are, appropriately, French: the Citroen XM TD and Peugeot 605 DT, both powered by a 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Both hold more than 17 gallons of fuel, giving a range per tank of just over 1,000 miles at 56mph.

Three German rivals, all from the VW group, will go farther. TDI versions of the VW Passat and Audi 80 get close to the required 1,100 miles. Audi's six- speed A6 TDI gets the award for, theoretically, exceeding it. And very nice the car is, too. Comfortable seats, incredibly long leg- room and exceptional quietness make the A6 TDI a great transcontinental express.

Outside, you can tell the five-cylinder engine is a diesel; inside, who's to say it's not petrol-powered? Not a cricketing team- mate, who was bowled over when I told him. Audi's 2.2 turbodiesel is not the most powerful in the class but few rivals better its massive torque and only Land Rover's diesel Discovery has a bigger fuel tank. None comes with more gears, though you have to pay pounds 399.50 for the extra cog. That raises the price of the A6 TDI SE to pounds 24,667.

You may by now have spotted the flaw in my plan. Driving 1,100 miles in a 125mph car capable of thumping mid-range acceleration without exceeding 56mph is unrealistic. Some compromise would have to be found. Respect for France's gendarmerie provided it.

On the autoroutes - the smoothest, least congested arterials in Europe (and the most expensive) - we would keep to the speed limit. We would not exceed 130kph, 81mph. If the Audi's rev counter occasionally strayed above 2,450rpm in sixth (that's 81mph), it was because concentration lapsed. Pity cruise control is not available on the A6 TDI.

After our outward journey of 582 miles, the standard-issue trip computer (an amusing toy on a tedious journey) indicated there was fuel for about another 200 miles. It was right. The 17.6-gallon tank has 4.6 in reserve - about 206 miles at the 44.9mpg we had averaged on the outward leg. The computer showed an optimistic 48.7mpg but the trip recorder, checked against the autoroute kilometre posts, was dead accurate. At this rate, we could have done 788 miles before running dry.

So we failed? Well, yes and no. Had we been less ambitious and started with a full tank from Dover, not Selsey, we could have made the return trip to Tournus, at slightly reduced speed, without refuelling.

Although 1,100 miles is not a realistic target, even in this long-legged Audi, 850 miles certainly is, given a modicum of restraint and greater use of normal roads where speeds are much lower. London to Berlin not out? Easy.

----------------------------------------------------------------- LONG RANGERS ----------------------------------------------------------------- The top 'continent shrinkers' are all diesels Model Tank *Miles (galls) per tank Audi A6 TD, 6-speed 17.6 818 VW Passat TDI 15.4 816 Audi 80 TD 14.5 761 Citroen XM TD 17.6 737 Peugeot 605 TD 17.5 733 Fiat Tempra TD 14.3 726 VW Golf estate TD 13.2 701 BMW 525 tds 17.6 697 Peugeot 405 D 15.4 685 VW Vento TD 12.1 669 Land Rover Discovery Tdi 19.5 667 VW Passat umwelt 15.4 662 Seat Toledo TD 13.2 649 Rover 825 TD 15.0 647 Renault 21 Savanna D 14.5 644 Citroen Xantia D 14.3 639 Toyota Carina D 13.2 633 Ford Mondeo TD 13.5 625 Vauxhall Omego D 16.5 617 Peugeot 306 dt 13.2 611 Nissan Primera D 13.2 611 BMW 325 tds 14.3 591 * Estimate based on official figures -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

    £30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum