2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: Leather versus MBTex

April 23, 2013

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG comes standard with leather, so my point here is somewhat moot in relation to this Benz halo car. However, it does perfectly demonstrate my point. Despite our best efforts, there is seemingly no avoiding excess wear and tear of the leather on a low slung car's leather side bolsters. Yet, such wear and tear is inevitable on any car with leather seats. It'll just take longer in a car of more conventional height.

That's why I'd opt for MBTex if I were to buy a Mercedes-Benz. Yes, it's vinyl, but it'll look good as new years after leather has cracked and ripped. Plus, believe it or not, MBTex breathes better than the cow-sourced stuff. So says Mercedes' engineers, and so says myself after several hundred miles of driving GLK350s through hot, muggy western Virginia. Better still, it is extremely hard to tell the difference between MBTex and leather. We've had cars for a week before realizing it has the pleather. Mercedes even added contrasting piping to the GLK's real leather to create a clearer differentiation for 2013.

Indeed, not all vinyl upholstery is created equal. I'm not so bullish on BMW's leatherette, but VW's is rather nice. Either way, I think such materials deserve more attention and respect as car seat upholstery. I've never been someone who demands dead cow adorn my interior and it has nothing to do with any animal-friendly leanings. If something else makes as much sense as MBTex I'll get it.

Having said all that, Mercedes sadly doesn't offer MBTex in the wide variety of colors that its leather comes in thanks to the Designo catalogue. You can get Porcelain White leather, but not Porcelain White MBTex. Pity, for another plus is that vinyl is easier to clean.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 21,970 miles

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