2015 Fiat Uno update includes restyled nose and new tail lights

2015 Fiat Uno update includes restyled nose and new tail lights

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Fiat was careful to get the timing right to update its new Uno. It was launched just over four years ago and a model year 2015 update has arrived charged with boosting sales in the aftermath of the Mille (essentially an updated mid-1980s Uno) phase-out early this year which accounted for 50% of sales of both models, a typical Brazilian market distortion.

The car seems well prepared for its new solo career though it uses the same engines as its predecessor and no there is still no electric power steering unlike some rivals.

The unchanged Vivace 2/4-door variants remain entry level now, similar to Nissan's recent decision to build an updated March here in Brazil and still import some older specification versions from Mexico.

The 2015 Uno has a new nose (bumper, grille, headlamps, position lights and wings restyled) which looks good but just new tail lights at the rear - they look more impressive close up than from afar. Five versions are offered in total, including the Evolution (replacing Economy) and the Sporting with centre mounted, twin-pipe exhaust (a visual trick, there are no engine tweaks).

The interior gets some innovations. The fully redesigned dashboard has a comprehensive instrument cluster while a multimedia centre screen with GPS navigation is optional. Front seats are new with easy height adjustment for the driver’s chair. A three-point seat belt is now standard for the middle rear passenger, a segment first.

In cars with the optional robotised single-clutch gearbox, which uses Magneti Marelli-supplied hardware and software, pushbuttons replace the console gear lever (Citroen has just done this for the new European market Cactus, too - ed). Fiat said the change was inspired by the Ferrari 458 Italia but we think it was more likely a cost-cut measure. The transmission has revised gear ratios and changes to reduce upshift lag and the options is complemented by a sizeable left foot rest.

A true novelty in Brazilian-made cars is start-stop for the Evolution fuel-efficient version (only) which has 1.4-litre engine and manual gearbox plus ultra-green, low rolling resistance tyres. In this price bracket fuel economy is the second most desired characteristic according to researchers. In congested traffic with continuous stops fuel consumption may drop by up to 20% using petrol or ethanol.

It the air conditioner is on, the engine restarts after one minute without depressing the clutch pedal, the usual procedure to kick the motor back to life. So, on really hot days, some onboard thermal comfort is preserved, for front seat occupants at least.

The 2015 Uno starts at BRL30,990/US$13,500 for the one-litre Attractive, a rise of BRL1,750/$650 over 2014 models which seems fair considering the added features (effectively no real price hike). The Evolution (1.4) costs BRL34,990/$15,200 and the Sporting (also 1.4), BRL36,560/$15,200.

Those are base which can rise considerably with factory options and dealer-installed accessories.  For the first time, a new Uno can exceed the BRL50,000/$21,700 threshold, nearly twice the old two-door Vivace. The rest of the Uno range is four-door only.

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