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Alcantara vs Leather Steering Wheels: Which Is Best For You?

So you’re in the market for a new car, and one of the features that caught your eye was leather or Alcantara steering wheels. You’ve heard good things about both options but can’t decide which is right for you.

This article will help clear up any misconceptions about these two materials and will hopefully allow you to make an informed decision when shopping around for a new vehicle!

Alcantara vs Leather Steering Wheels: Which Is Best For You? Leather steering wheels are more durable than Alcantara but will cost a lot more upfront. While leather steering wheels also do very well with wear and tear when compared to Alcantara, they will not offer the best grip action when compared to Alcantara steering wheels.

To learn more about how Alcantara compares to leather steering wheels, keep reading this article. Before I get into the meat of this article, let me highlight a few important things about Alcantara and leather.

What is Alcantara?

Alcantara is an automotive material that is used for car seats, steering wheels, and almost anything on the interior of a car. Alcantara was developed by a Japanese chemist and manufactured by an Italian company Alcantara hence the name.

Alcantara is a synthetic material that looks and feels like suede but has durability properties similar to leather. You can say Alcantara is made to feel and act like suede, but it is not suede even though Alcantara is popularly known as ultra-suede.

This is why most people confuse the Alcantara material with suede, but, surprise! surprise!! it is a lot different from it. Alcantara is a 100 percent synthetic material made up of polyester and polyurethane, unlike suede which is made from animal hides.

They are also used to make other household furniture (like couches), accessories (like handbags), and electronics.

It offers an elegant, luxurious feel without the over-the-top price tag of natural materials like leather from calfskin or ostrich skin.

Alcantara is often used for steering wheels due to how much grip action it has against its relative durability and ability to maintain a cool soothing feel even in extreme temperatures.

What is Leather?

Leather as a material is tough and durable, but it’s also porous. It needs to be cared for by regularly treating the leather with a water-based moisturizer to keep your steering wheel looking new.

Leather is often used as both an accent on interior surfaces or exterior body panels of cars due to its versatility. With proper care and maintenance, leather will be able to withstand higher temperatures without becoming brittle.

You can check out this article for more information about what leather is.

Alcantara vs Leather Steering Wheel – Details

Now that we have had a clear understanding of both the Alcantara and leather materials, let’s now make a side-by-side comparison of these two extraordinary materials.

We will access these two materials based on several factors so that you will be able to make an informed decision.

1. The Grip:

The first differentiating or telling factor between the Alcantara and leather steering wheel is how well they function in terms of their grip.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara has a natural grip especially when it is new. It is able to maintain its grip action even in extreme temperatures and it will not lose its tackiness due to sweat or high humidity levels.
  • This is why you will find the common usage of Alcantara on race cars seats and steering wheels.
  • The downside with Alcantara when it comes to how much grip it has to offer is that its grip wears out very quickly. More on this later!

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • The leather steering wheel possesses the same characteristics as Alcantara with regards to how much grip they have during dry conditions, although when wet, leather’s ability for traction may be reduced significantly.
  • This is where Alcantary will feel a lot grippier than leather. Because of this, a lot of leather steering wheels will be perforated in order to allow air to flow freely and keep a lot more grippier and cool.

The Verdict:

I think it’s a Draw!! between Alcantara and Leather Steering Wheel when it comes to grip action.

Both leather and Alcantara possess similar qualities in terms of grip action in dry palms and stable conditions.

But when it comes to the steering wheel material with the all-around best grip action especially in a new car below 3000 miles then Alcantara will be your best bet.

But it is important to note that leather will maintain a fairly comfortable and practical grip up to 40,000 miles if it is properly cared for and maintained.

2. Source Of Material

People’s concern for the source of certain materials used in manufacturing is increasingly becoming more and more popular among most people today. This is why how the steering wheel material is sourced is one of the important factors.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara is not an animal product, but it is made from synthetic fibers. This means that there are no dead animals skins involved in its production process.
  • This to many people is ethical and not only safe but also cruelty-free. Alcantara is usually made from polyester fabric and polyurethane.

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • Not to sound captain obvious here but the raw material for leather steering wheels is animal skin. This means that the animal was slaughtered to produce this kind of wheel, an act which many people are uncomfortable with because they believe it’s unethical and too cruel on animals.
  • But what some may not know is that a lot of the animal skin is sourced or harvested from the meat industry. Meaning the animal is not exclusively slaughtered for the purpose of only obtaining leather.

The Verdict:

Personal preference!

For this factor, I would say it comes down to individual preference. Hence, depending on one’s preference as well as their ethical stance towards wearing or using products made from dead animals, such a steering wheel can be either appropriate or inappropriate given its originator type.

3. Durability

Another distinguishing factor as far as comparing Alcantara and leather steering wheel goes is the durability of the materials.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara, being a synthetic material in certain ways has a slight advantage over leather. You will not have to worry about dryness or maintenance because Alcantara doesn’t require either one of those things!
  • This is because Alcantara will not dry out and it does not require any sort of maintenance other than the regular cleaning you do from time to time.
  • With that said, the durability does vary by Alcantara type. Some are less durable than others while others can be reinforced to give them greater longevity or wear resistance.

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • Leather is one of the most durable materials on the planet and it has been that way for many many years. However, it comes with a catch which is it needs regular cleaning, conditioning, and protection.
  • Meaning your leather steering wheel unlike Alcantara will need quite a bit of babying in order for it to last.
  • As mentioned before it needs to be conditioned and moisturized every so often, which can take quite a bit of time and money depending on how frequently you drive your car.
  • But with proper care and maintenance, leather will last very long and maintain its rich luxurious look. This also means that Alcantara will need replacing about ten times as quickly as leather.

The Verdict:

Leather Wins!!

In the long term, leather will hold up pretty well and will not lose its tensile strength even after a century with proper care and maintenance. Alcantara on the other hand will fall apart after just about 10,000 miles.

4. Resistance To Wear And Tear

Steering wheels see a lot of use, as whenever you use your car you definitely use your steering wheel. This means that a steering wheel is often under stress, which can cause it to wear out more quickly than other parts of the car. With that said, let’s compare how these two materials hold up against wear and tear.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara wears very poorly the more it ages. The cloth is made up of tiny fibers that can break and become brittle.
  • This means that Alcantara steering wheels will start to tear and wear out quickly, especially when they are subjected to abrasive materials such as dirt or sand which grind the material down even more.
  • And since the steering wheel is one of the common surfaces you touch frequently, Alcantara will not fare well with time.
  • After about 3000 miles you can expect the nap on your Alcantara steering wheel to start deteriorating and by 8000 to 10000 miles, you would have lost the nap completely.

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • The leather itself has a lot more to give than Alcantara does so it is less likely to crease or lose its original look, texture, and tensile strength in high-stress areas like hands at the base of the wheel.
  • They also resist wearing better due to their higher quality construction and rich fiber.
  • Although the leather steering wheels are going to become darker with time and will also have a shiny buildup over its surface with time, it will still hold up much much better than Alcantara.

The Verdict:

Leather Wins!

Leather is far more durable than Alcantara if you want a material that will hold up for years unending then leather is your best bet.

5. Maintenance

Maintenance is very important as you would want to know what it will take to keep your steering wheel looking as good as new.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather will generally accumulate minimal dirt and debris when compared to Alcantara due to the velvety nap on Alcantara which tends to trap a lot of dust.
  • However, leather will get stained a lot easier from sweating palms than Alcantara.
  • Because of this, leather will need to be cleaned, conditioned, and protected regularly. Without these things happening regularly your leather will inevitably start looking worse and with time, it will result in cracked areas.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara is somewhat a lot more resistant and will not require the kind of tender loving care you would have to show to the leather steering wheel.
  • Meaning Alcantara will still get dirty but it is a lot easier to clean and maintain than leather.
  • It won’t require conditioning. It also takes less effort, time, and money. This means you can spend more of your time enjoying your ride instead of cleaning your wheels!

The Verdict:

When it comes to low maintenance, Alcantara Wins!

Alcantara steering wheels are a top pick for busy people who have no time and resources to care for and maintain their steering wheel frequently. Or people who want something which is almost maintenance-free.

6. Price

Neither material is cheap to produce, so you will have a high price tag for either one of them. But there are a few things that set them apart in terms of price.

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • A leather steering wheel will come at a much higher price than an Alcantara one. This is because making leather takes more time and effort to produce, which also means that they are less common in production.
  • But because the leather will last you over 40,000 miles, it is going to be a lot cheap in the long run.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • The process of making Alcantara steering wheels is easier and cheaper. Which means that the price tag will be lower. This also makes them more common in production as well.
  • While an Alcantara steering wheel may be cheaper upfront, you’ll have to replace it around 8000 miles this means you will likely end up paying more than your initial cost.

The Verdict:

So I will cautiously say in terms of price, it’s a Draw between Leather and Alcantara. While the leather steering wheel will have a huge initial cost, it will pay for itself in the long run. Alcantara on the other hand will be budget-friendly and will not require a lot of money upfront.

7. Resistance To Extreme Weather Conditions

The exterior of a car is as hardwearing as the interior. This is why it is important you also know how these two steering wheel wraps do against normal and extreme weather conditions.

Alcantara Leather Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara will hold up against extreme weather conditions better than a leather steering wheel. This is because
  • Alcantara is water-resistant, and it does not absorb any moisture quickly unlike its counterpart which absorbs moisture off your hands.
  • Another reason why Alcantara is stable against weather conditions is because of the material it is made out of. It is made from synthetic fibers which are durable and will not fade if exposed to sunlight.

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • On the other hand, a leather steering wheel will absorb moisture from hands when it rains and during humid conditions. This then leads to serious damages to the material over time.
  • This is why you should make sure that after heavy rainfall or snow you also wipe down your car’s dashboard, steering wheels, seats, and other interior surfaces with a wet cloth so as not to leave any residue of salt from de-icing agents.

The Verdict:

Alcantara is a lot more water-resistant than leather. So it’s a Win for Alcantara!

8. Appearance Or Look

One of the first things that will attract you to either the Alcantara or the leather steering wheel is their general appearance or look. This is how they compare to each other.

Leather Steering Wheel:

  • In terms of appearance and looks, leather steering wheels are more traditional. They are made from real animal hides and have a natural look to them that is appealing.
  • They are usually smooth and shiny and will show scratches and scuffs more than Alcantara steering wheels.

Alcantara Steering Wheel:

  • Alcantara is a synthetic material that looks like suede leather. However, Alcantara steering wheels provide more versatility in terms of colors and designs as well as being easy to clean with no chemicals needed.
  • The feel can also be customized by mixing different types of threads which means you’re getting something unique out there on the market today. Plus it’s basically scratch-proof!

The Verdict:

Leather has a rich luxurious but traditional look while Alcantara has a more futuristic feel. It comes down to individual choice as to which you do prefer.

But all in all, both are great options for your vehicle’s steering wheel in terms of their look!

Alcantara vs Leather Steering Wheels – Summary

Alcantara Steering WheelsLeather Steering Wheels
GripAlcantara has a natural gripIn wet conditions leather’s ability for traction may be reduced significantly
Source Of MaterialMade from polyester, polyurethane, and other synthetic fibersIt’s a by-product of the meat industry
DurabilityCan last about 6000 to 10000 miles and then it turns in hard vinylCan last over 40,000 miles
Resistance To Wear And TearAlcantara wears poorlyLeather holds up well with wear and becomes richer and darker with time
MaintenanceAlcantara requires only cleaningLeather requires cleaning, conditioning, and protection
PriceAlcantara is made of synthetic materials so it’s budget-friendlyLeather is pricey
Resistance To Extreme Weather ConditionsHolds up well against any weather conditionsMust be treated regularly to make it weather resistant
Appearance Or LookHas a nap on its surfaceLeather is smooth and usually has a shine on its surface

Macwilliam K. Appianing

Hi! I’m Macwilliam, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leatherwork enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day!

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