We take a comprehensive look at Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, two safety features across the Mazda range designed to make life navigating inclines in your Mazda easier.

WHAT IS HILL DESCENT CONTROL?

Hill Descent Control is a safety feature designed to help you drive down steep gradients, using the vehicles cruise control system to slow downward progress.

Typically, Hill Descent Control systems are designed so that they can only be activated if the vehicle is moving slower than 30km per hour to help ensure a safe descent.

WHAT IS HILL START ASSIST?

Designed to prevent rollback when starting from a stop on a hill, Hill Start Assist is a system that uses a combination of sensors and brakes to automatically hold your Mazda in place so you can safely accelerate away whilst on an incline.

HOW DO THESE SAFETY FEATURES WORK?

The way Hill Descent works is similar to that of traction control and electronic stability control. Like those systems, Hill Descent Control communicates with ABS hardware to apply the brakes without any input from the driver. This allows each wheel to be controlled independently to maintain traction.

To use the system, the driver must first approach an incline at a slow speed. Then the Hill Descent Control must be engaged, and a predetermined decline speed established. Using a combination of anti-lock brakes and other systems, the vehicle will maintain a constant speed for the descent, even if the grade increases or decreases. When the road levels off, the driver can then shut off Hill Descent Control and increase the speed of the vehicle once again.

Check out this video for more information on Hill Descent Control.

HILL START ASSIST

When you come to a stop on an upward gradient, Hill Start Assist goes to work. To begin with, a series of sensors will detect when your vehicle has come to a stop on an incline. That information is then passed to the Hill Start Assist system, which then maintains pressure on the brake, so you don't have to. Once you press the accelerator pedal, the brake is released, and you can drive off with no rollback.

At Mazda we call it Hill Launch Assist. Here's a video of it in action.

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE THEM?

Hill Descent Control can be used when navigating steep inclines, particularly in rough terrain, which can put your vehicle at risk.

Hill Start Assist is useful in any situation where you're stopped on a hill, particularly so in bumper to bumper traffic, or driving a steep driveway or ramp.

WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM THESE SAFETY FEATURES?

Hill Descent Control was originally designed for vehicles that lacked low range gearboxes and differential locking features. Over time, the system has been refined to be a useful safety feature for anybody who occasionally drives down steep declines, and doesn't have a fully-fledged 4X4.

WHAT TYPE OF VEHICLES HAVE THESE SAFETY FEATURES?

You can find Hill Descent Control on vehicles like SUV's, station wagons, sedans and utes. Hill Start Assist is typically found in all sorts of vehicle types and is across the entire Mazda range on every grade.

Source: Mazda Australia