Ford's high-tech new Mondeo helps drivers make the perfect hill start no matter how steep the gradient or how heavy the load.
The car's sophisticated software detects the attitude of the Mondeo every time it becomes stationary – for example at traffic lights. If the Mondeo is on either an uphill or a downhill slope it automatically engages Hill Launch Assist (HLA).
A smooth hill start normally requires significant co-ordination skills from a driver. Initially the car is held on the handbrake while the clutch is progressively disengaged and the accelerator applied. As inertia is overcome, the handbrake is gradually released to avoid rollback.
HLA eliminates the need for the driver to apply the handbrake and instead automatically holds the Mondeo for up to 2.5 seconds while the driver's foot travels from the brake to the accelerator pedal. As soon as sufficient engine torque is available, HLA releases the brakes without the risk of either stalling or rolling backwards.
Lucian Lippok, Ford development engineer said: “The aim of HLA is to ensure a smooth and simple start when pulling away on a hill. As soon as the driver releases the brake pedal the system holds the car to avoid the awkward sequence of engaging the handbrake to hold the car momentarily.”
Lucian also highlighted HLA's other benefits: “The system makes it especially easy to control a fully laden vehicle or when towing. With no chance of stalling or rolling backwards, it means that the driver can keep both hands on the steering wheel and concentrate fully on driving safely.”
HLA complements new Mondeo's other advantages as a tow car – recognised by the Caravan Club awarding Ford Mondeo its prestigious 2008 Towcar of the Year title.
HLA has three settings – off, manual or automatic – controlled via buttons on the Mondeo's steering wheel. A message in the cluster menu indicates when HLA is active. The system detects an incline via sensors that operate within half a second of the car stopping.
HLA can be specified either by either selecting new Mondeo's Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control active suspension, or it is included with new Mondeo's adaptive cruise control option.
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