Seat talked of “improved profits” in its 2011 results statement but that should really read “reduced losses”. Operating results did improve – by almost EUR100m euros (30%) to a loss of EUR232m versus EUR330m in red ink the previous financial year.

Earnings after tax rose EUR43m (41.3%) to a EUR61m loss.

Revenue rose 8.3% to EUR5.05bn thanks to an increase in exports.

Parent Volkswagen Group spent EUR555m euros (up 7%) on investment and R&D at its problem division.

President James Muir said: “Seat has delivered on its commitments. We have improved all our indicators and this year we want to continue in the same direction.”

Vehicle deliveries last year rose 3.1% to 350,009 units worldwide, in spite of the Spanish market crisis, and at year’s end it was car registrations leader for the second consecutive year. The company made up for the downturn in its home market by an 11.4% increase in exports, which now account for almost 80% of total deliveries.

The upturn was particularly significant in Germany (+20.9%), France (+14.6%), the United Kingdom (+9.6%) and Italy (+6.5%). Seat increased its market share in the European Union, and also sold 35.4% more in Mexico, plus 35.6% more in North Africa and the Middle East.

Finance chief Holger Kintscher said: “Our company is following the plan laid out to achieve profitability. We have continued to increase earnings and optimise costs, and this has enabled us to improve our results. We have also [added] more than 1,000 employees and invested EUR555m to consolidate our future. We are on the right track.”

Seat’s new Mii, the brand’s new city car and version of VW’s Up, last year returned Seat to the segment and greater market coverage.

More Seat sales and the production start of the Audi Q3, helped the company increase production at Martorell, its main factory, by 5.5%, to 353,420 vehicles.

Seat will launch a new Toledo and five-door Leon next summer.