Leather is a highly coveted piece of material for car seats. But today, with all the innovations been done by most of the car manufactures, It’s almost impossible to distinguish between cars with real leather seats and the numerous brands such as BMW and Mercedes Benz who have developed proprietary faux leather materials.
What makes it more challenging is the fact that most of the car brands offer a combination of leather, synthetic leather, and cloth materials on their cars.
So in today’s article, I researched car brands that have not only the best real leather seats but also offer world-class leather seats.
So what cars have real leather seats? A lot of car brands offer seats in partial real leather and other material but only a few car manufacturers offer a full installment of real leather on their seats. The car brands that have real leather seats are:
- Porsche (100% Real Leather)
- Audi (100% Real Leather)
- Volvo (97%-99% Real Leather)
- BMW (80% Real Leather)
- Lexus (79% Real Leather)
For the remaining part of this post, I’m going to give you the details on the various types of leather these brands use and rank these car brands according to how much real leather you will approximately have on their seats. Enjoy!
1. Porsche (100% Real Leather)
Porsche is one of the most consistent brands when it comes to its design and rich leather interior. Porsche for several years now has always had their car seats in 100% full-grained leather with the Natur Leder as their exclusive factory upgrade alternative.
Their leather is exclusively sourced from cattle in Temperate climates because these hides sourced from such cool climates in general, result in thicker, more durable leather hides that have fewer defects on them.
Although Porsche also offers a synthetic Porsche seat material, it has 2 main real leather styles: Nappa for Porsche and Porsche Natur.
The unique thing about Porsche’s leather is the wide array of colors their natural leather comes in.
From Porsche’s very own history, they have had their Nappa full-grain leather in 33 different colors.
From their classic black all the way to their Boxster Red and everything in between. This is a reflection of how much Porsche wants to satisfy their cherished customers with real leather seats in colors that can help them make their own statement.
2. Audi (100% Real Leather)
If you want your car seats with 100% pure or real leather installment, then Audi is also another go-to brand. All Audi cars are fully equipped with real leather on their seats.
Audi offers various leather upholstery and a trim option for every one of their cars. The majority of leather Audi uses for their seats is from cattle from southern Europe.
To select the best leather, Audi tests over 30 different leather on their criteria of tensile strength, shrinkage behavior, pliability, abrasion resistance, and other different parameters before choosing the ones that go onto their seats.
Audi uses one of the most sophisticated leather tanning methods called vegetable tanning and vegetable dyes to create a super-rich material that’s highly durable, long-lasting, with a classy luxurious feel.
3. Volvo (97%-99% Real Leather)
Volvo is known to have one of the finest automotive leather in the world. With the exception of the Volvo S60 and the V60 which is offered with synthetic leather sport seats, all other Volvo models use real leather for the car seats.
Volvo uses 2 types of leather: Soft Nappa leather sourced from Elmo, Sweden and for more than 30 years, Volvo car seats have been made of the finest leather from Bridge of Weir, Scotland.
Every piece of leather Volvo sources from Bridge of Weir Leather Company has the signature of over a century craftsmanship knowledge and experience.
Most of Volvo’s leather seats are carefully handcrafted to meet their set leather seat standards.
Volvo when choosing their leather material for their car seat lookout for very soft and natural-looking leather that meets their high standards for wearability.
All of their leathers are lab tested. So even if the leather meets their aesthetic, feel, and color standards and it doesn’t meet their rigorous laboratory criteria, then it’s of no use for them.
This is where Bridge of Weir Company thrives. With their full on-site laboratory, they’re able to do a wide variety of daily and annual leather testing to ensure they have the best material for one of the the best cars in the world.
4. BMW (80% Real Leather)
BMW offers some amazing leather car seats. Although BMW has some of the best good quality synthetic leather known as Sensatec, it still has Dakota leather and Vernasca leather (Real leather) as their most popular leather car seats at the moment.
Their real leather — Dakota and Vernasca leather seats are all very similar because both are made from the real hides of animals and coated with artificial dyes and finishes.
Due to the heavy-duty finishes put on the Dakota leather and Vernasca leather, they are more durable and do not require a lot of Tender loving care to maintain their look.
Dakota leather and Vernasca leather are not the only types of real leather BMW offers. While these two types of leather are heavily coated, other real leather from BMW such as Nappa leather and Merino leather are more natural-looking with no dense artificial dyes and finishes.
BMW’s Nappa leather is a full-grain leather which is un-split, semi-aniline leather with a light clear coat finishes on its surface for durability. It’s one of their premium leather options in cars like the 5,6, and 7series.
Although Nappa leather is BMW’s second highest-quality leather among its premium leathers, it’s one of the best natural-looking and natural-feeling leather materials that require very little maintenance and is the most reasonably priced premium leather from the BMW brand.
On top of BMW’s premium real leather chart is Merino leather. Merino leather is made from the finest cowhide. It’s not dyed with artificial coatings or colors. Merino leather is for BMW’s higher-end M models and an upgrade option for their 7 series.
5. Lexus (79% Real Leather)
Lexus is yet another brand that offers some of its car seats in real leather. Most Lexus cars come equipped with a synthetic leather called Nuluxe.
The synthetic Nuluxe leather is a high-quality synthetic leather material that has the exact look and feel of natural leather without the added premium cost and care.
You will find real leather seats almost exclusively on their F-Sport editions and their luxury and Ultra-luxury packages.
The real leather Lexus uses for their upper Lexus trim levels are high-quality semi-aniline leather and like most premium and aniline leather seats, they need a substantial amount of TLC to keep it well maintained.
The semi-aniline leather Lexus uses for their Ultra-luxury cars are thicker and richer than their Nuluxe leather which is more lightweight, eco-friendly, and affordable.
What Do Real Leathers Car Seats Have In Common?
All the car brands who have real leather seats have some things in common in terms of the leather material itself. These similarities include:
All of the aforementioned car brands use real leather from the hides of actual animals.
These cars will have a standard material such as cloth or leatherette sourced from synthetic and other natural materials apart from leather for their base car models.
Their high-end models will then be fitted with real leather trims from the hides of real animals. Cowhide is the most common hide often used.
These hides after they are sourced will go through special treatments and a series of tests to see how well they hold up against wear, tear, and abrasion.
The Ultra-premium leathers from these world-class brands will be as natural as it can get with no synthetic dyes or coatings.
Most of the standard real leather seats on the other hand, has a synthetic color coating and often times with some varying levels of embossed leather patterns to make it natural-looking.
Similarly, you will find some of these brands offering some kind of a clear coating so the leather retains all of its natural look, textures, and real leather feel.
The leather that these brands use are specially sourced from different parts of the world in order to meet certain specific car seat and interior requirements. Some of these brands may even choose leather from places with certain kinds of climate in order to get the level of quality they desire.
After these leathers are sourced, all of these brands have special laboratories (some, in-house and others, outsourced) that run daily and annual tests on how well their leather will hold up or wear out in different conditions.
There are rigorous processes these brands go through to finally get the best quality leather for their cars seats. All these activities markup the price of the real leather material they use.
This is why you will usually find that these materials are bundled up in exclusive upgrade packages and those that come with the cars have a heft price tag.
When it comes to leather car seats, maintenance is a big issue due to how hard-wearing leather car seats are in general.
At this point, If you have been reading through this article, you would know by now that all of these brands have some level of protection on their real leather seats with some being a light clear light coat, while others have a heavy-duty synthetic layer placed over the leather.
Although the protective layer placed on the leather will render some of these leathers more resistant than those with minimal protective overlay, real leather seats will always need a special care to keep it looking good and healthy.