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From Africa to the UK - on a tankful

Goodwood, Sussex - British journalist Andrew Frankel picked an unusual way to get to last weekend's Festival of Speed. He drove there. In a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. From Tangier. In Africa. 1968km. On one tank of fuel. Siri-aas.

The car was a very nearly standard UK-spec E-300 BlueTec Hybrid, dead stock except for a factory-fitted 80-litre fuel tank, which is a £100 (R1800) extra-cost option in the UK, but standard issue in South Africa.

Frankel maintained an average speed of 72.9kph through heavy rain, intense heat, rush hour traffic jams and dramatic elevation changes.

The journey took him and a relief driver from Tangier in Northern Africa to Goodwood, across two continents, three time zones and four countries, at a feather-footed 3.1 litres per 100km over 27 hours of driving - maintaining an average speed of 72.9km/h, through heavy rain, intense heat, rush hour traffic jams and dramatic elevation changes.

COULD IT BE DONE?

The original intention was simply to see if it was possible to get to there without refuelling, but on arriving at Goodwood the car's fuel gauge was still showing above the E mark and the on-board computer reckoned the car could still do about another 160km - giving it a theoretical range of 2129km on a tankful.

In a South African context, that's the equivalent of driving from Cape Town, all the way up the Garden Route past Port Elizabeth to East London and back again, without filling up.

WHAT KIND OF CAR IS THIS?

The E300 Hybrid has 2143cc direct-injection turbodiesel four rated for 150kW at 4200rpm, and a 20kW electric motor, mated to a specially adapted 7G-tronic auto transmission with paddle shift. Using both (and to hang with fuel economy) it'll hit 100km/h from a standstill in 7.5 seconds and top out at 242km/h.

Standard kit includes Comand infotainment control, automatic climate control and leather upholstery with heated front seats as standard.

Prices in South Africa start at R780 300.

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