Leather seats are a bit tricky because most people don’t consider a car to be a luxury car unless they have leather seats in them, including BMWs. Leather is not the greatest material for seats, though, as many people will agree, they are susceptible to weather and degrade pretty easily without proper maintenance and care. Does BMW have an answer to this?
SensaTec is the only available option for BMW seats that is not leather. SensaTec is a synthetic leatherette/vinyl material mixed with cloth available on request and lower-end models. Otherwise, all BMWs come with leather seats; however, there are various leather types that you can choose from, including Dakota, Vernasca, Nappa, and Merino.
Let’s look at all the available options that BMW offers for their seat upholstery and then we’ll specifically look at their non-leather range and compare it to their various leather options. We’ll also take a look at a premium leather that Alpina offers for their BMWs.
BMWs and leather seats
BMW is synonymous with quality and has been as such for decades upon decades. In fact, BMW has now been a dedicated automotive designer and manufacturer for over a century. When someone thinks of a BMW, they think of engines that roar, and luxurious interiors.
For the most part, BMWs are geared towards people who can afford to spoil themselves and enjoy the finer things in life, and because of that, a BMW is comprised of nothing but the finest high-end, top-quality parts that an automobile can be made of and that includes their seats which are typically made of leather if you pay over a certain amount for your vehicle, choose it as an optional extra, or is standard in specific models, otherwise you get BMW’s SensaTec.
As we discussed, depending on how much you are willing to spend on your vehicle, you can have either BMW’s Sensatec or upgrade to a leather interior for a nominal fee. Furthermore, choosing a leather upgrade with your car you would think is a thoughtless process; however, you can even choose between the various types of leather they offer.
You are probably not aware of the many variations, and it is quite a feat that BMW offers the range and exclusivity that they do even when you only have to consider the upholstery of your vehicle.
What interior covering options does BMW offer?
Let’s consider the options you have for the interior of your BMW. Let’s also compare and go over their pros and cons, so you know if you are in the market to purchase a new BMW or you are thinking about replacing your seat covers you will know what you can get.
SensaTec (leatherette/cloth) interior
As we briefly said, Sensatech is BMW’s answer to everyone who does not like leather. Leather gets hot in the summer, cold in the winter, your pets easily damage it, and it is pretty challenging to keep it healthy and looking good.
With SensaTec, all the problems of leather are in the rearview mirror. It is synthetic leather that is not made from animal hide, so anyone out there who is a vegan or associated with PETA does not have to get their spray can ready and boycott BMW any longer.
The main aspects of SensaTec to note are that as far as quality and comfort go, it is right up there with BMW’s leather interiors. The only thing that it is missing is the flexibility that leather can give you; otherwise, Senstaec is comfortable and supportive.
Since BMW released their M3 and M4 range back in 2015, they reinvented their SensaTec material to incorporate cloth as well. This is great because now this material is lighter, breathable, sportier, and cheaper.
Dakota Leather interior
Dakota leather is the most common type of leather that BMW offers and is its typical upgrade option in addition to the next type of leather we will look at. This leather has dyes and finish added to it as well as having a “grain” pattern embossed into it. Due to the heavy finish added on top it has more of a smooth, plastic feel, but it is also less prone to scuffs and marks compares to full-grained leathers.
Vernasca Leather interior
This is the second most common type of leather that you will find in a BMW, and it really depends on the region in which you live and the availability of which leather you can upgrade to, either the Vernasca or Dakota. Like the Dakota, this leather type has a grain embossed finish and is coated with dyes and finishes. Vernasca is very similar to Dakota and they are both great options for most BMW drivers.
Nappa Leather interior
Nappa leather is a feature leather that is available on their higher-end models such as the 5, 6, and 7 series and is a much more high-quality premium type of leather. The great thing about this leather is that it is much easier to take care of and requires less attention to keep maintained than the other more expensive leathers that BMW offers.
This leather features a full, light clear coat and is a full-grain, semi-aniline, unsplit leather, and it has to been seen and touched to be appreciated. As you can see in the picture, it is a really fancy leather that can cost a pretty penny to upgrade to.
Merino Leather interior
Merino leather is the be-all and end-all of BMW’s leather options and is a step up from their Nappa leather. Nappa leather is the standard option in their top-tier vehicles; however, Merino has to be requested. You cannot truly appreciate this leather until you actually get to see it for yourself.
One thing to note is that this leather is a standard option in specific very high-end M models, and make no doubt you will be paying high-end prices for it. Furthermore, this leather is not dyed with any artificial colorings and coatings, and with that being said, it will also be the leather that requires the most maintenance and care to keep it in tip-top condition.
Lavalina Leather interior
Lavalina leather is not part of BMW’s range; however, it is standard on all the Alpina Models that are BMWs. If you don’t know who Alpina is, they are an automobile manufacturing company that develops and sell high-performance versions of BMWs and Mini vehicles.
This leather comes specifically from Southern Germany and Is selected from the highest quality cowhides that are non-salt-preserved. These leathers use natural dyes for the tanning and dying process. In addition to this, Lavalina leather is the most breathable leather out of all the options available.
We now know that BMWs answer to people who do not want leather or who cannot afford it is their SensaTec range, a combination of cloth and synthetic leather. Besides this, all BMWs will have leather for their interiors and their seats specifically.
Furthermore, we found out that there are actually quite a few leather options that BMW offers. Depending on the upgrade option you choose or the BMW model you pick out, you can have up to four different types of leather options, including Dakota, Vernasca, Nappa, or Merino.
The other option that we spoke of was the Lavalina leather option available in the BMWs manufactured by Alpina automotive manufactures, and they are technically BMWs, so they do count.
If you opt for a leather interior, you have to be aware that they do require a lot of care and maintenance for them to stay in great condition; however, the least amount of effort needed is for that of Dakota or Vernasca leather. Don’t believe me about the maintenance? Check out this picture of an E36’s (admittedly an old BMW at this point) leather:
The SensaTec range offers a material that is light, breathable, comfortable, much more affordable and is available in lower-end models of BMWs range. Nothing to pull your nose up at, this material offers it all in terms of quality, durability, and comfort, and if you are not a fan of leather, then it is a definite route to choose.
Lastly, if you are looking for a proper cloth-only interior, your best bet is to have it custom upholstered by a professional because these are the only options that BMW offers.