Leather Interior - European vs. US/Japan - BMW Forum - BimmerWerkz.com
3-Series (E46, E90) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1999 to Current. Models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318Ci, BMW 320i, BMW 323i, BMW 325i, BMW 330i, BMW 328 Ci, BMW 328i, BMW 325i/xi, BMW 330Ci, BMW 320d, BMW 330d, BMW 335d.

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#1 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 01:39 PM
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Leather Interior - European vs. US/Japan

Has anyone noticed that the leather in our cars is much higher quality than that used in comparable US and Japanese cars?

I have always had an infatuation with leather interior, and believe it or not, this is my first car that has leather. I have always wanted it, but not until now have I owned a car with leather.

When I was in high-school, my dream car was a Mustang GT 5spd with "leather". I went to a Ford dealership one day when I was 19 and test drove a 1999 Mustang GT with "leather". I was utterly dismayed to find out that Fords so-called "leather interior package" included leather "trimmed" seating "surfaces" on the FRONT BUCKET seats. Upon further research I found that this translated into English to mean a few stips of low-quality leather on the front seats only. Everything else (headreasts, seat sides, backs, and the entire back seat along with arm rests and shifter boot and parking brake) were sythetic leather (vinyl) color-matched to look like their low-quality leather. I looked at cars that were less than 5 years old and found cracked, and faded "leather" that looked like it had been doused with gasoline or something.

I was so dissapointed after that experience that I started to look at other cars, such as Toyotas, Chevys, Lexus, and everything else, including BMW. I found that German cars (ie, Bimmers and Mercedes Benz) had leather that actually had grain, and looked much higher quality. Unlike the shiny, glossy, fake-looking junk they were using in the Jap and American cars, our cars (Bimmers) had real looking leather that was supple, and actually covered surfaces of the seats that your body doesn't directly come into contact with.

Believe it or not, that was a huge selling point to me. After that finding, I decided that German car manufacturers probably put the same care to detail and luxury in other parts of their vehicles, such as their plastics, and body panels. As I grew older and wiser (I'm only 25 now, but I am a complete car enthusiast) I found that my theories were in fact true.

When I purchased my 2002 325i, I was so happy to find that the leather on the seats covered every surface, even down to the rear headrests, and fold-down arm rest. Thanks BMW for giving us that dignity and honor to have leather seats that are actually leather. I love conditioning the seats and feeling the supple, buttery feel of the nice leather. They don't crack and don't look like plastic seats from a 1984 Chevy Caprice Police service car, like most 10 year old or older American cars.

That's my post. Your thoughts?.....

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#2 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 05:12 PM
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I concur.

The first time I went and looked at my 323i that was one of the first things I noticed. It really does say a lot about the vehicle and the maker. My 6-year old, black-on-black sedan interior is FLAWLESS. No cracks, scrapes, fading, dry-rot, etc. on the REAL leather. If you go look at your typical Jap or domestic car with "plastic-leather," or more commonly referred to as "PLEATHER," it looks like shit. I always hated that, and never owned a "leather" interior because of it.

There's a reason why you pay more for a BMW. The engineering is there. Care is given to detail. Full-frame car, heavy, solid parts used in construction. It's balanced.

Hmmm...I wonder why GM is cutting back 300,000 employees? As a 15-year domestic automotive technician I'm here to say--
The Americans--compared to most other car manufacturers--are building garbage. Trash. Junk. And the public is catching on. Sooner or later, I knew people would get tired of having to put 3 transmissions in their 1-year old domestic vehicle.

It's quite sad, really.

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Last edited by 441tech; 03-29-2006 at 05:28 PM.
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#3 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 01:34 PM
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Well put. If GM focused on their products and their quality just half as much as they spend on their marketing, maybe we would have better sales?

Think about it....does BMW have to spend all that money to hype up their cars in advertising? No, just show the car on the road and people want it. On the contrary, when was the last time you saw a commercial for a Pontiac G6 and said, "Damn, I want that car!" Right. Didn't think so.

I am looking forward to the next Camaro, but my hopes and expectations are unfortunately low. The production cars are always less cool than the concepts.

It's a very competitive market out there (cars these days) and BMW's leadership is just forcing the other companies that seem to care more about profits than delivering a good product that will last to buckle up and make a better car. I don't mind some competition. Gives us the leading edge...

But for God's sake, guys....put some real friggin' leather on your seats. It really won't hurt your profits that much. And your customers will be much more happy. Not that you care...

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#4 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 02:06 PM
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I agree to everything said on here for the bimmers. It is a sheer pleasure to sit on pure leather and go to a shitty job everyday. :lol: This is my first car with "LEATHER" seating and I aint ever going back. I even can endorse leather to the verge of being kinky....??!!

Regarding GM yes they cringe on stuff and dont pay attention to luxury on many of their models but you have to understand that the common american cannot afford a BMW and he has to make himself happy with PLEATHER or suede. No real wood trim just plastic. Since a majority of GMs cars are targetted towards the lower to upper middle class, they cannot afford to jack up their prices like BMW can. I mean anybody buying a bimmer doesnt care if the prices go up by 3 grand. Talk to a person bying a Dodge Neon and tell him the price went up by 2000 dollars and hes gonna drop it like its hot.

No denying that the quality of GM cars have gone down but its the marketing that primarily to blame. American economy thrives on wheels so to speak. This country makes more things with a motor on wheels (besides bicycles) that the entire euopean union combined. There is something called supply and demand people. Add to that the massive influx of ricer cars from tokyo, korea, etc. and you have an inverted slope of demand my friends and thats why car dealerships are filling faster than they are emptying. Now production cannot be lowered unless you fire people and thats how the system works. Now GM has come to terms with it and they are gonna be cutting on production to increase demand. And no I dont think GM is ever gonna be overtaken by any Jap or Euro company simply because those makers cannot compete with the "flood the market" mentaility of GM and Ford. But what is gonna happen is that GM is gonna cut back...wait for a few years and then boom go back again. Just like the Feds raise interest rates and cut them to control spending an the economy. I am just surprised why BIG AUTO hasnt caught on yet.

BOTTOM LINE......for those who can,.....BIMMERS RULE...:lol:
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#5 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 07:27 PM
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Totally agree, Kulbiker.

And honestly, you don't have to be wealthy to buy or own a Bimmer. I got mine for under $20K, used with a fair amount of miles on the ticker. But c'mon, a 3 year-old bimmer still beats a brand-new Neon for $5k less! Seriously. I looked! Hmmm, let's see, shall I get this brand-new Chevy Cobalt "SS" for $25k, or save $7k and get a used 3-series. Gee, that's a tough call...

In 3 more years my BMW will still be new in comparison to that now 3-year-old Cobalt, which will probably resale for about $12k.

I'm sure this has been said a million and a half times, but I just have to say it again. BMW---along with many other makes from Europe---build their cars to last. They make their cars of parts that (although not perfect) generally last longer. They want your business for life, baby. And I'll tell you what. They got it! I'm not planning on switching brands any time soon....

The "Big Three" (GM, Ford and Chrysler) can follow in our footsteps and build wanna-be cars to sell to the fools who are dumb enough to pay the premium on the new-car mark-up, just to have the value and quality drop overnight. If it weren't for those fools, who would we compete against?

More thoughts?

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#6 (permalink) Old 03-30-2006, 07:32 PM
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No questions about it....I will NEVER again own a domestic (US) car now that I have worked on and owned BMW products....Bottom line domestics SUCK!!! And the US market trying to be competitive with German superiority PLEASE!!! Come on who's going to own a Buick rather than a BMW?!?!

Just one other thing to add, when I went to UTI (Universal Technical Institute) I was a DIE HARD Chevy fan...domestics were WAY better in my mind than ANY import...now I have seen the error in my ways (hell why do you think I work for BMW not Chevy?!?!) LOL to think how young and stupid I once was

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#7 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 12:31 AM
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Many Japanese manufacturers have very good interiors. My mom used to have a 1994 Honda Accord with all the bells and whistles, and the interior had nothing to envy luxury makes in terms of the quality of the materials. Acura, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mazda are know to have very very nice interiors. When it comes to American cars, I agree. I am strongly bent toward imports. Even American luxury vehicles have very cheap-looking interiors.

About the leather fixation: same thing happened to me. I don't think I can go non-leather (or without heated seats) anymore.

Well-engineered products show attention to detail. As an engineer, I look for well-engineered products when I make a purchase. BMWs are atractive machines for engineers.

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#8 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 11:45 AM
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I agree with everything here. HOWEVER--Ocean asked why you would buy a new Ponitiac for $22k, when I can get a 5 year old BMW E46 loaded with 80k on the clock for $18k? I totally agree.

I think if people actually knew the differences in quality, they would in fact buy a BMW. As an aircraft and auto tech, I know the differneces between most of what is on the road today, and we all know domestics are the laggers in quality.

I agree with Kulbiker as well, though. I understand most people can't afford BMW's new, or even used. And, as most of us also know, repairs can be considerably expensive IF YOU HAVE TO RELY ON A SHOP TO FIX IT. So, another point is, even if people bought a used Bimmer, could they afford to maintain it?

I practically stole my car, but it had a blown motor 'cause some idiot never changed the oil. In addition to a replacing the engine, (which the new one only had 69k miles on it) I also completely rebuilt the front and rear suspension, replaced all 4 tires, did some paint/body work, and replaced some worn interior components, (i.e. leather shift knob, cup holder, console, etc.) Now, if someone had to pay a shop to do this, it would cost a small fortune. Currently, mine is worth $6k more than I have into it, and NO CAR PAYMENT. It looks like it came off the line yesterday.

My point? You can own a BMW on a WalMart Greeter's salary--IF you have the knowledge and the resources. Most people do not, and the effect is that BMW, Mercedes, etc. are reserved for people with a little extra income "kick." Not necessarily for the initial investment, but the maintenance costs. They can be somewhat overwhelming on these cars.

Thoughts? Opinions? Am I way off here?

441tech

Last edited by 441tech; 03-31-2006 at 11:48 AM.
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#9 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 12:17 PM
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Talking about affordability its funny how people at my office talk about me having a bimmer. No I am not a big earner and hell my boss drives a Subaru...lol. Once during a dinner he noticed my Bimmer and said man how much are you making on the side. I was like dude you prolly spent more on that subaru peice of junk SUV than i did on my ride. I mean his wagon 2.5i would cost him like 24 grand basic. I bought my 2001 325xi with all the bells and whistles (and boy what bells and what whistles...lol)....for 21 grand with a 4 year warranty thrown in in 2004.

People usually think those who ride bimmers are rich. Well its true for most part because traditionally we think like everyone else. But for the most part Its all in the mind. I wanted a bimmer all my life. The day I was earning more than my monthly installment I bought it. Its more of a passion and you cannot initiate the uninitiated. Beleive me all my friends now want my car and dump theirs once they drove it. I will never buy another brand unless i file for bankruptcy. Well maybe a Land Rover Sport SUV (sweeeetttt.......) :lol: . I dont do all my work on the BMW and yet surprisingly its hasnt been more expensive than any other car I would have paid for.

At the end of the day, bad day at job...whatever....once i get in those soft leather seats....the all wheel drive.....the plush interiors.....JBL sound.......every worry of the world just melts away. I am the king of the road.....
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#10 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 441tech
I agree with everything here. HOWEVER--Ocean asked why you would buy a new Ponitiac for $22k, when I can get a 5 year old BMW E46 loaded with 80k on the clock for $18k? I totally agree.

I think if people actually knew the differences in quality, they would in fact buy a BMW. As an aircraft and auto tech, I know the differneces between most of what is on the road today, and we all know domestics are the laggers in quality.

I agree with Kulbiker as well, though. I understand most people can't afford BMW's new, or even used. And, as most of us also know, repairs can be considerably expensive IF YOU HAVE TO RELY ON A SHOP TO FIX IT. So, another point is, even if people bought a used Bimmer, could they afford to maintain it?

I practically stole my car, but it had a blown motor 'cause some idiot never changed the oil. In addition to a replacing the engine, (which the new one only had 69k miles on it) I also completely rebuilt the front and rear suspension, replaced all 4 tires, did some paint/body work, and replaced some worn interior components, (i.e. leather shift knob, cup holder, console, etc.) Now, if someone had to pay a shop to do this, it would cost a small fortune. Currently, mine is worth $6k more than I have into it, and NO CAR PAYMENT. It looks like it came off the line yesterday.

My point? You can own a BMW on a WalMart Greeter's salary--IF you have the knowledge and the resources. Most people do not, and the effect is that BMW, Mercedes, etc. are reserved for people with a little extra income "kick." Not necessarily for the initial investment, but the maintenance costs. They can be somewhat overwhelming on these cars.

Thoughts? Opinions? Am I way off here?

441tech
You are right on track. Just getting teh car is one thing. I like my car, but pretty much anything that I ever put on my previous (Mitsubishi) cost less than $10 - lol - Even the alternator cost under $100. Maintenance expenses are where the difference lies. Being mechanically oriented helps, but only if you also have the time to work on your car.


Oh, and leather still rules

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#11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 12:55 PM
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Well sounds like we got a good thread going here. Some very educated and wise opinions, if I may say so.

Kulbiker, drz and 441tech, you guys are all right on track IMO. The image of a BMW is a lot more than the cost. What I mean is this. Typically, statistically, or whatever (and this apparently does not apply to a lot of us real enthusiasts) the people who purchase NEW BMWs are upper, class, or heavily in-debted people who are trying to appear upper-class. The image means, not only driving a nice car, but dressing the part, going to the right clubs and fancy restaurants, etc. If anyone on this forum has read "The Millionaire Next Door", you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's a disease called "competing with the Jone's".

I personaly couldn't care less what the next guy drives or wears, or where he lives or how big his house is. That doesn't reflect who I am. My car, on the other hand, is my passion, my hobby and my sanctuary. Just like Kulbiker said, when you get into your car after a crappy day, it's all okay. Even Los Angeles rush-hour traffic isn't so bad in my BMW. Damn, I love that frickin' car.

The other point that BMWs are expensive to maintain is, as you have mentioned, relative. $40 to change my oil myself every 7-15k miles isn't much. Parts, maybe, but I will make it go right to do the work myself if at all possible. Also, I have a back-up vehicle---my motorcycle---so I can always ride that while my car is temporarily out of commission. And for those who must have a new car, BMW now gives you 50K miles of free total maintenance. What's that worth? Plus the piece of mind of the car itself and your pure joy?

I guess it all boils down to what your money, piece of mind and lifestyle is worth.

I love this thread. Keep 'em coming guys!

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#12 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 12:57 PM
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Kulbiker, I get the same thing at work. And your right--what's funny is these guys spend $30k on a brand new Dodge pickup, and he's already on his second transmission.

Kills me, absolutely kills me. What pisses me off sometimes is that guys like this get pissed because they think you make so much more than them or some ridiculous nonsense. DUH! If you would do a little research, you'd find out that a used BMW is more than likely much cheaper than your new truck.

Get a friggin' clue, people.




AHHHH.....that felt good.

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#13 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 01:01 PM
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Well hell on that subject, my hubby's new Chevy D-max actually cost more than my 3 (and it's not a base model)!!! And I cant see why (other than the diesel engine of course)!!! There is nothing spectacular about the truck, it's just a truck!

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#14 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 01:20 PM
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Completely different market. Trucks are always overpriced if you ask me. In So Cal, trucks cost more than fricken' cars! SUVs are even worse.

Why? Who knows? Its a steel ladder-frame with a steel body on top and some big-ass engine that guzzles gas. Sure they put plastic...er, um, "leather" on a few square inches of the front "captain's" chairs and some other bells and whistles and call it an XLT or some crap. Not to knock trucks, I love trucks and grew up in my Chevy 350 with 4-speed and granny gears. Loved that damn thing. But it was a far cry from a BMW.

Bottom line is, they will charge what they can get, and not a penny less. If they give you some "rebate" or special, "You-only-pay-what-the-GM-employees-pay" offer, just follow the buck. It's all about profits, baby. And although BMW is a business just like GM, Ford or Chrysler, at least they give their "Clients" (customers) the piece of mind of some exclusivity and pride.

Wow, I sound like a damn journalist from Motor Trend. Hey...you guys hiring?

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#15 (permalink) Old 04-03-2006, 07:08 PM
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I agree the euro and jap are crap in terms with interior... most ther are exceptions.

The only thing car that I could find that could compete with my bmw was my tiburon which has real leather. But I am banging my head because I found out a week after I got my tiburon; Habberstad had a used E46 M3 for only $3,000 more. I got even more mad because I asked my mom to drive me over to Habberstad before we went to the hyundai dealership that day.
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