Is There Any Real Difference Between Alcantara and Suede?

There aren’t a lot of textile options in most vehicles, in fact, the basics are pretty, well, basic. Cloth seats versus leather are the choice most buyers have to make, and while synthetic leather such as vinyl can offer a similar experience. In luxury and sports cars, however, there is another option that can be used on seats, trim panels, dashboards, and headliner, called suede or Alcantara. While these words are often used interchangeably, they aren’t exactly the same thing. Wondering what the difference is between suede and Alcantara interiors are? You’re not alone.

What is Alcantara?

RELATED: Best Car Cabins For Vegans

Alcantara isn’t just used in automotive applications, but it does give many cars a refined, high-end touch. This soft-touch material sounds cool even in name, but if you’ve ever touched it, chances are you’ve wondered how it’s even different from suede. The best way to describe Alcantara is that it is a synthetic suede, and the nuances behind it’s production set it apart from genuine suede in a lot of ways that might surprise buyers. Once reserved for high-end luxury vehicles, this textile is now becoming more and more popular in many vehicles.

Where does Alcantara come from?

The black-and-red seats and white dashboard of a white used 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth
Used 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth interior | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

To start, it is important to note that suede is not a vegan-friendly interior — it comes from animals. This is where the drive to create a material that wasn’t animal based came from, leading to the creation of Alcantara. It is very similar to other forms of faux suede, but it has more constraints in order to earn the name. Alcantara, if you didn’t notice by the capitalization, is a formal name, which refers to the company who owns the trademark, Alcantara S.p.A of Italy.

While the exact ingredients of the materials are proprietary, we know that they include polyester and polyurethane. The company also prides itself on being 100% carbon neutral, according to CJ Pony Parts. The site also goes into details about the history of the material in Ford Mustangs as a staple in the world of muscle cars.

Is Alcantara a better option for interiors overall?

Besides the fact that Alcantara is a more sustainable, animal-friendly material, there are a lot of things that set this material apart from suede. It’s a better option for most car interiors that can see a lot of wear and tear over the years, making it an all-around better option in almost every vehicle. Alcantara is:

Overally, the main difference is that Alcantara is a synthetic material created to mimic suede, and, in many cases, it also happens to be more expensive. Besides that, it is more durable, stain resistant, and easier to maintain, making it a better option for most vehicle owners.

RELATED: Vegans Rejoice! How the 2021 Polestar 2 Is the Ultimate Vegan Ride