Audi and the RAC (a U.K.-based automotive services company) have set a new official Guinness World Record by driving a diesel-powered A6 TDI Ultra to 14 different countries on a single tank of gas.

The A6 was unmodified for the journey, exceeding its factory-rated 67 mpg with an impressive average of 75.9 mpg, seeing a total of 1,158.9 miles before requiring a fill-up. The car comes standard with low rolling-resistance tires and a 73-liter (19.28-gallon) fuel tank.

At the helm was auto journalist Andrew Frankel and British racing driver Rebecca Jackson, who collaborated to set the new record in a 28-hour non-stop journey across Europe. The pair started in the Netherlands on June 9th at 9:48 AM (GMT) and ended in Hungary on June 10th at 12:44 PM (GMT), passing through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia in the process. The route was planned by the RAC to avoid things like mountain gradients and congested urban areas.

However, the trip wasn’t without its challenges, with several unplanned detours required due to heavy traffic caused by an accident and a closed tunnel.

Frankel said he was delighted to be part of the effort, and that he hopes the new record will stand for some time to come. However, the challenge was much harder than he expected, requiring a constant attention to the car’s velocity, with max efficiency available at an average speed of 50 mph. “In order to do this you have to be fully aware of what’s going on around you and anticipate what could happen with the traffic ahead,” he said.

For Jackson, the stint was a diversion from her normal gig as a flat-out performance driver, but she thought it was nonetheless something that the RAC and Audi should be proud of. “This was an amazing event and a very different long-distance driving challenge to what I’m doing next year when I compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016,” she said.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

At first glance, it could seem a bit odd to employ a race car driver for some hypermiling, but the closer you look, the more sense it makes. To get the absolute economy from a car’s engine, the driver must employ a variety of techniques that can be honed on the track. These include the conservation of momentum (as in no brakes), an ability to anticipate spots down the road that could slow you down, and buttery-smooth control inputs. Anyone who gives anything less than constant throttle is wasting fuel, a point not lost on Jackson, who said, “Most people won’t think of me in terms of fuel-efficient driving, but if you’ve ever tried to handle a racing car in the wet then you’ll know how important smooth control is,” prior to setting off on the record-breaking attempt.

It’s all a continuation of the German automaker’s intention to develop oil burners that combine the contradictory purposes of high efficiency and performance.

 

Audi has been hyping its diesel technology a lot lately. For example, the automaker recently announced that it set a new lap record around the German Sachsenring race track using its performance-oriented 2015 Audi RS 5 TDI Competition concept vehicle. What’s most interesting about the car is its use of an electrically driven compressor that boosts power and sharpens throttle response from its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, which Audi indicates could see future applications in production vehicles. 

It’s all a continuation of the German automaker’s intention to develop oil burners that combine the contradictory purposes of high efficiency and performance.

Audi has been working towards such a goal for some time. One of the best examples comes from the world of endurance racing, where the marque championed the 2006 Audi R10 TDI as the first diesel-powered vehicle to win both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. It’s the perfect venue for such development, as the big power will get you in front of the pack, while solid economy will keep you there as your competitors dive into the pits for a refuel.

As the world looks to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to combining sporting fun with low fuel consumption, Audi is forging a way forward for diesels. Are oil burners the way to go, or will the electric vehicle be the platform to beat?

While I believe electrification is inevitable, I think diesels will provide a fantastic solution in the interim. Battery tech still has a way to go before it can compete with the convenience and accessibility of a fill-up at the pump, while the infrastructure supporting diesel power is already in place. And while the U.S. is only now integrating more diesels into passenger vehicles, the rest of the world has already proven its viability. 

What’s most interesting is a combination of the two techs, such as with that previously mentioned electric compressor on the RS 5 TDI. Will several hundred mpg be possible from a diesel hybrid, and if so, how will it perform? 

My bet is Audi is already cooking up an answer.

2014 Audi A6 TDI Ultra

2014 Audi A6 TDI Ultra High Resolution Exterior
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If you’re gonna plant your butt in a car seat for 28 hours straight, it might as well come equipped with the finest German engineering, such as can be found in the A6 TDI Ultra. The Ultra moniker comes from the model’s intentions to combine practical usability with top-range fuel economy, and given the above-featured record-setting run, the result clearly works. The A6 TDI Ultra uses a 2.0-liter four-banger to make 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is good enough for 8.2 seconds to 60. Not exactly fast, but driven frugally, you can get over 75 mpg and visit pretty much the majority of Europe on a single tank of gas.

Read our full review of the 2014 model here.

Press Release

Audi and the RAC have officially set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title by driving to 14 countries on a single tank of fuel. The unmodified Audi A6 TDI ultra chosen for the challenge comfortably exceeded its official 67mpg-plus potential by averaging a remarkable 75.9mpg and completing a total of 1158.9 miles without the need for a fuel-stop.

Audi A6 TDI Ultra Breaks World Record By Visiting 14 Countries On One Tank Emblems and Logo Exterior
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Motoring journalist Andrew Frankel and racing driver Rebecca Jackson drove the A6 TDI ultra almost non-stop for nearly 28 hours from the Netherlands to Hungary, passing through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

Commenting on the new record, Jon Zammett, Head of Audi UK Public Relations, said: “By covering so much of Europe on a single fill-up, we have proven that real-world economy of almost 76 mpg or more can be had from the latest engine technology. The Audi A6 TDI ultra has proven the range capability of one of the world’s most advanced executive cars."

Both drivers faced numerous challenges in their 28-hour driving adventure including diversions for both heavy traffic due to an accident and a closed tunnel which led to an unplanned mountain detour.

Audi A6 TDI Ultra Breaks World Record By Visiting 14 Countries On One Tank Exterior
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Andrew Frankel, respected newspaper car reviewer, said: “I’m delighted to be part of the team that has set this record and would like to think it will stand for some time as we eked out every last mile from the A6’s tank. From an endurance point of view the challenge actually proved to be far harder than both Rebecca and I imagined it would be.

“Despite sharing the driving we were on the road almost continuously for 28 hours, focused on maintaining an average speed of around 50mph. In order to do this you have to be fully aware of what’s going on around you and anticipate what could happen with the traffic ahead. While it was normal driving in one sense, it was also a very different type of driving, but nevertheless demanding.”

Racing driver Rebecca Jackson added: “I feel Andrew and I have helped the RAC and Audi set a record to be proud of. I’m known for driving pretty fast, but this challenge was naturally more about maintaining a constant, fuel-efficient speed and not being caught out by vehicles which would cause us to slow down and then accelerate to the optimum speed again. This was an amazing event and a very different long-distance driving challenge to what I’m doing next year when I compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016.”

As the efficiency champion of the A6 range, the Audi A6 TDI ultra represents the pinnacle of the Vorsprung durch Technik brand’s absolute focus on maximisation of efficiency for extraordinary fuel economy and emissions, underpinned by a refusal to compromise on the hallmarks that define an Audi. The ‘ultra’ badge is also reserved for the most frugal A3, A4, A5, A7 Sportback and TT models, all of which are available to order now.

This new world record also proves just how capable the A6 ultra is of covering huge distances closer to home – in Britain, the same car could theoretically swallow whole the well known A3, A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8 arterial roads, again without a single fuel stop. If laid end-to-end, these key trunk roads, which sprawl southwards and westwards from the centre of London towards Southampton and Bristol, and radiate as far north as Glasgow, would stretch for 933 miles. The staggering potential range from its 73-litre fuel tank also puts any one of the 12 margins of Europe within easy reach:

Audi A6 TDI Ultra Breaks World Record By Visiting 14 Countries On One Tank Exterior
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European cities within range of the A6 TDI ultra Distance (in miles)
Zagreb 995
Warsaw 982
San Marino 915
Barcelona 895
Vienna 884
Monte Carlo 848
Andorra 783
Prague 757
Milan 701
Turin 731
Munich 684
Zurich 544

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