They Are Not Created Equal: BMW Leather Explained

There are lots of BMW owners around here in the US. We are facing a very comprehensive order guide when we are customize building/ordering  our BMW. One prominent issue is the various vocabulary used in the description of the car’s leather seats/upholstery. These different terms are not just for fancy decorative purpose, in fact they mean something.


Below are some brief explanation of those frequently terms you will see in all US market BMW models’ order sheet:

Merino Leather

Usually in M models and BMW Individual orders. This is genuine fine-grain natural leather, it is dyed with no artificial coating applied.

Nappa Leather

This is an optional upgrade for the higher-level BMW models (such as the 5, 6 and 7-Series, X5 etc). It is a full-grain, un-split semi-aniline leather with a light clear coating on top of the surface for protection. Its grain quality is not as high as the Merino leather, and it is considered to be the 2nd highest quality leather in BMW cars.

Dakota/Nevada Leather

Used on most model’s base trims. This is a lower grade leather, usually corrected-grain or even created from the split, and coated with a synthetic polymer paint. Its surface is embossed with an artificial grain.


Used on some lower-level models’ base trims. Previously known as the “Leatherette”, this is not a real leather material. In fact this is just a vinyl material tries to mimic the look and feel of the leather sheets. This fake leather material does not breath as good as leather, so you will feel hot after sitting on it for an extended time period. However, it wears better than Merino/Nappa leather, easier to clean and maintain, and it is not animal-based.

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