What leather does BMW use? Is it real?

BMW uses Nappa leather as the standard for most luxurious BMW models, Sensatec for the low-end BMWs and Merino as an option for the high-end models. This means, most likely, the stock model you purchase would receive genuine leather, and you would need to pay in addition to get the so-called real leather in your brand new vehicle.

Is real leather worth it as an add-on on your BMW?

The answer to this question is subjective. What might be worth it for one person may not be worthwhile for another individual, and vice versa.

Some individuals prefer the finer leathers because they feel as if it lasts longer than synthetic materials and feels more luxurious when coming in contact with their skin; others want to invest more in a bigger engine, instead of purchasing features that do not enhance driving performance.

BMW has always produced quality vehicles in terms of performance, looks and comfort. But is the leather used in the flashy interior real?

Types of BMW leather


Sensatec is the standard leather in most low-end BMW vehicles. Sensatec BMW leather is  a high-quality, genuine leather that is soft to the touch.  Although it isn’t real leather, it feels comfortable enough for most people. It is inexpensive, durable and holds a luxurious look. Moreover, it’s vegan.

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Dakota and Vernasca leathers

Dakota and Vernasca leathers are original BMW real leathers. They hold up to wear and tear well over time and provide an overall luxurious feel in the interior of vehicles. Both of these are finished with dyes and finishers of an artificial kind.

Nappa leather

Nappa leather is a very luxurious, soft, and expensive type of BMW leather. It feels exceptionally smooth to the touch, has long-lasting durability and looks elegant in vehicles.

This high-quality material is used for trimming or accenting. However, it can add considerably to the cost of an interior because it’s more valuable than other types. The Nappa leather is usually an option on BMW 5, 6, and 7 series.

Merino Leather

Merino leather is another type of BMW leather. It’s more expensive and has a finer feel than the Nappa does, but it doesn’t last as long or age quite as well because it’s all-natural and requires a lot of maintenance and care. The top-level of quality for most BMWs are their Merino or Nappa leather seats which are made from real hides but they can sometimes cost more than $1000 per seat!

Merino is often used in vehicles with cloth upholstery because it can produce fabric-like textures that are soft to the touch. But have in mind that it isn’t the most durable choice, despite being the most expensive one.

Is there any downside to real leather seats?

Could sustain odours if neglected

Well, if you don’t keep them clean then the leather can start to smell. But this is true with any material because dirt and bacteria will accumulate no matter what kind of seat it is.

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Real leather heats more easily

Moreover, with higher temperatures, you get to feel the difference.

As a result, the real leather seats will get hotter than faux leather ones and this can be really uncomfortable in hot weather.

Merino leather isn’t durable.

Although real leather is quite expensive, when it comes to seating, genuine leather can be more durable and resistant to folds.

What to consider instead, Other Add-ons and Options, related to seating

Heating Seating and Ventilating seats

But you know what? Buying cooling features for your vehicle is a better idea if it’s sunny outside! Most high-end luxury BMWs come with seat heating, for cold weather and cooling features for hot weather. If the model you’ve chosen doesn’t have them as standard, consider purchasing the add-on for your comfort.

The Ventilating BMW seat option allows for the air to flow through the seat, ensuring that your seat is kept cool even during the hottest journeys.

Memory settings, if more than one person is driving the car.

You can purchase heated or ventilated executive leather, faux leather with memory settings on the driver’s side only, or both! Executive BMW seating comes in different styles: sporty, classic and elegant. This is a great option if you’re looking for a more high-end look but still want comfort.

The Bottom Line

Most people are satisfied with Sensatec-grade faux leather because it’s the cheapest option and still gives a good luxurious look and is quite durable. Of course, you can always purchase the add-on of real Merino leather.

However, the little difference doesn’t mean that the higher cost for getting Merino isn’t worth it. In general, customers prefer to get an upgrade, since they are already paying a ton for a luxury vehicle, why not add up to its value by getting real leather?

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What is executive BMW seating?

Executive leather features side memory settings for the driver’s seat and comes in three styles. Classic looks like a retro-style with wide armrests, sporty has bucket-style seats with more cushioning and elegant has a softer look to it. Of course, none of this is obligatory, and you could go with the stock option of standard BMW seating.

Does the quality of the leather in BMWs match the flashy interior?

Some of the BMW seats are available with a premium faux leather option. It looks and feels like genuine, expensive cowhide but is less than half the price! This means you’ll be able to spend more money on other upgrades or features for your vehicle without feeling guilty about what animals have been killed, in order for your BMW seating to be furnished properly.

Are standard BMW seats comfortable enough or do you need an upgrade?

The standard BMW seats are very comfortable, as BMW relies on giving the best possible driving experience to the driver, and the seating position is one of the key elements that BMW focuses on. Most BMW models have a low driver position, with an ample field of view and a good grip on the wheel and the shift stick.

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Dan Gurbalov

Why do you love cars? I love the sound of most gasoline engines. I love the smell too.

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