Fiat’s Uno is alive and well and celebrating its 20th birthday in Brazil, writes Rogerio Louro.

Trying to keep the model – renamed the Mille (Italian for 1,000) when the one-litre ‘Fire’ engine was standardised in 1996 – in the top sellers’ ranking, Fiat Brazil has given the car what looks to be little more than a facelift and new tail lamps.

But It goes deeper than it looks – the Fiat do Brasil style centre has redesigned the grille, bonnet, bumpers, headlights and tailgate.

The Uno-based Fiorino compact van also gets a new look.

Priced from about R$15,000 ($US5,150) the Uno/Mille model is the cheapest car in Brazil and Fiat sold 96,995 last year, roughly the same as in 2002. But the car did lose its third place in the sales charts to General Motors’ more recently designed Chevrolet (reworked Opel) Corsa.

The Uno was introduced in Brazil in August 1984 and is produced in Fiat’s Betim plant, in Minas Gerais state.