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Car enthusiasts often fixate on the newest engines, high-tech features, and horsepower ratings. However, it’s essential not to overlook the materials used in a vehicle’s interior, specifically the seats. Alcantara is a popular material used in many sports and luxury cars. It simulates real leather, is lightweight, fire-resistant, and creates less waste during production. However, like any product, it has its own set of concerns. One major problem with Alcantara material is it is terrible for touch surfaces.

What is Alcantara? 

The interior of the Peugeot with Alcantara material inside.
Peugeot with Alcantara material | Alcantara S.p.A.

According to the Leather Dictionary, Alcantara is not a type of leather, but a trade name for a microfiber fabric made from polyester and polystyrene. It originated in Japan but is mainly produced in Italy. It is fabricated to look and feel like suede but with more elasticity and durability. Alcantara is different from genuine leather and suede, which are tanned animal hides. In addition, Alcantara’s production process is less environmentally impactful than leather.

What are the negatives of Alcantara?

Now that we know what Alcantara is, let’s discuss the bad news. One major problem with Alcantara is that it is slippery. Surfaces that are used for touch, such as the steering wheel or door handles, can be difficult to grip when covered with Alcantara. It can become even more unsafe if oil or sweat makes it slippery. Another issue with Alcantara is that it is prone to trapping dirt and dust quickly. Too much dirt and grime build-up can reduce its lifespan.

Are there any benefits of Alcantara?

However, not all is lost. On the bright side, there are many advantages to using Alcantara in a vehicle’s interior. Rather than avoiding the use of the material completely, Alcantara is still a great choice for non-touch areas such as pillars, roof linings, or door trims. It is also effective in reducing noise — providing you with a quiet ride.

For example, it simulates genuine leather, and like real leather, it provides plenty of comfort. But unlike leather, it is almost entirely defect-free, which means no tears, cracking, or fading. The Drive mentions many OEMs praise Alcantara for its premium quality while also being lightweight—both desirable advantages when you’re building a feathery performance car. Plus, the lightweight nature of Alcantara makes it an excellent choice for race car seating, saving several pounds for improved performance. Alcantara’s fabric is also fire-resistant, adding an invaluable level of safety.

Should I equip my interior with Alcantara?

The answer to this question depends on your preferences. Although Alcantara is an excellent choice for many aspects of car interiors, it does have some limitations. The good news? It shines in areas where touch is not required, like the shoulder area of a car seat, door pillars, ceiling upholstery, and other accessories. But, on the other hand, drawbacks from its slippery nature and dust collection are best avoided in important touchpoints. 

Regardless, the pros of Alcantara’s reduced weight, high durability, and quality finish provide enough convincing positives to consider for your interior. With proper maintenance, this material should last long-term.


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