Hill Descent Control (HDC)*1

HDC can be compared to an automatic engine brake. When you release the accelerator on downhill gradients the car is normally braked by means of the engine striving for low engine idling speeds, so-called engine braking. But the steeper the roadway and the more load in the car, the faster the car coasts despite engine braking - the HDC function compensates for this with automatic brake intervention.

General information on HDC

HDC makes it possible to increase/reduce speed on steep downhill gradients, with a foot only on the accelerator pedal, without using the foot brake. The sensitivity of the accelerator pedal decreases and becomes more precise by means of the full actuation of the pedal being restricted to adjusting engine speed within a limited range. The brake system brakes itself and provides the car with a low and even speed, so allowing the driver to fully focus on steering.

HDC is particularly helpful on steep gradients with an uneven road surface and slippery sections. E.g. when launching a boat on a trailer from a ramp.


HDC does not work in all situations but is designed merely as a supplementary aid.

The driver always bears ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the vehicle is driven safely.


P3-1046-xc60 HDC button
HDC On/Off.

HDC is activated or deactivated with one of the centre console's switches. The lamp within it illuminates when the function is activated.

Symbol stabilitetssystem - text

When HDC is operating, the combined instrument panel's symbol illuminates combined with the text message Hill descent control ON.

With manual transmission, the function works only on first gear and reverse gear.

With automatic transmission, gear 1 must be selected in manual gearshift mode (+S-), or R must be selected. This is indicated by the number 1 or R in the combined instrument panel, see Automatic gearbox - Geartronic*.


HDC cannot be activated on an automatic gearbox when the gear selector is in position D.


HDC allows the car to roll at a maximum of 10 km/h (6 mph) forwards with engine braking and 7 km/h (4 mph) backwards. However, any speed within the gear's speed register can be selected using the accelerator pedal. When the accelerator pedal is released, the car is braked quickly to 10 or 7 km/h (6 or 4 mph) respectively, irrespective of the hill's gradient and without the need for the foot brake.

The brake lights come on automatically when the function is operating. The driver can brake or stop the car at any time by using the foot brake.

HDC is deactivated:

  • with the centre console's On/Off button
  • if a gear other than 1 or R is selected on a manual gearbox
  • if a gear other than 1 or R is selected in manual gearshift mode on an automatic gearbox.

The function can be disengaged at any time. If it takes place on a steep downhill gradient then the braking effect will not release directly, but slowly instead.


With HDC activated you may experience a delay between acceleration pedal activation and engine response.
  1. * Option/accessory.
  2. 1 Only possible on the S60 Cross Country with AWD.