I'm one of the rookies who believe that, 'til now, we've had the choice of either shortening clutch life or using the hand brake while, for instance, waiting on a steep incline traffic light at a San Francisco intersection. I'd love to have had this drive-off assistant back in the '50s (and '60s, and '70s, etc.). I'm truly impressed by ABS and all of it's technological spinoff's. And, by the way, the new Cooper seems to take advantage of just about all of them (one of the reasons I put my order in for the 2007).
Its a question of confidence and familiarity. The car does not "know" that you are on a hill in real terms, so applies resistance to backwards motion momentarily when the forward gears are engaged and the clutch is released. Its not going to hold you there until you finally get moving, and 2 seconds is not long to get yourselves sorted if you are waiting for the car to propel itself forwards without any input from the driver apart from releasing the clutch unless it gets the right accellerator pedal opening. You'll still need to do a hill start of sorts conventionally, it just helps remove the roll back that might happen for a short time. Even on the flat or going down hill, the same processes are applied.
I can confirm it lasts about two seconds, as the biting point on my new MCS is about 6 inches higher than my old MC. So has taken a little getting used to. So much a couple of times today I thought I had the car momentarilly at the biting point only to find it start to roll gently backwards after a couple of seconds (yes, this did happen when facing uphill).
And also, before anyone asks, I havn't been dricing long, so havn't got used to swapping from one car to another.
I have a 2013 Mini Cooper R56 hatchback. I was not aware that it had this feature, hill assist. When I went to pull into my driveway and stop before opening the garage door, I did what I normally do, which is to let my foot off the brake and proceed to give it gas and go forward in first gear. It started to roll backwards and felt as if the car was going into reverse. I took it to my dealer and found out:
It was the hill assist. It felt like it was going into reverse and when I was giving it gas, it would continue in the backwards motion.
The way it works is, if you take your foot off the brake on an incline, in about 1 to 2 seconds, it feels like it has shifted into reverse. What was really happening is that the brakes were releasing, making it feel like it was going into reverse.
Now that I understand what is happening, I know to make sure I keep my foot on the brake until I am absolutely ready to give it gas and get going. That feeling of it releasing felt like it was shifting into reverse, when in actuality it was not. Having many standard shift cars, I am used to using the clutch and gas to keep me still at times on a hill, of course in combination with the brakes. It's just something to get used to and I realize now, it is a good feature to have, as long as you understand how it works. I hope this will help someone who may have this happen to them without knowing why.
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