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      07-12-2012, 06:22 PM   #1
visualguy
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Leather on the dashboard - durable?

It bugs me that the backs of the front seats are black plastic when you choose extended rather than full leather. It looks ok with black seats, but ugly with silverstone.

I've been thinking about getting the full leather, but I'm concerned about the leather on the dashboard. According to BMW, it's real Nappa leather.

This seems like a recipe for trouble later on. Doesn't leather degrade, discolor, shrink, and crack in the sun? Even if I use a sunshade, it won't cover the entire area, so there's still a potential problem.

Is this option good pretty much only for people who garage their cars both at home and at work?

One way to get around this problem is to get the individual leather where there's no leather on the dashboard. Unfortunately, this option is even more expensive even though it covers less things in leather. The black plastic front seat backs bug me, but not so much that I want to spend $5K to fix the problem...

Is dashboard leather durable in the really long term (10 years)? What's the difference between "Finely structured Merino leather" and regular Merino leather? Does it really justify some of that $5K for individual leather?
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      07-12-2012, 06:30 PM   #2
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I've had my E39 for over 10 years now...full leather was standard back in 02...while my car only has 43k on it and has always been garaged, there is not a single bubble, crack, discoloration or any other imperfection in the leather...extremely durable.
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      07-12-2012, 06:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by VPM5 View Post
I've had my E39 for over 10 years now...full leather was standard back in 02...while my car only has 43k on it and has always been garaged, there is not a single bubble, crack, discoloration or any other imperfection in the leather...extremely durable.
Thanks, but if your car has always been garaged, then your experience doesn't indicate how the leather dashboard would age if the car was left outdoors during the day parked in an open parking lot.

I'm not planning to use the car as just a weekend fun car, and my office parking isn't covered...

Even if initially I commute only in my old beater, I'm sure I'll start using the M5 for this at some point.
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      07-12-2012, 09:04 PM   #4
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Doesn't leather degrade, discolor, shrink, and crack in the sun? Even if I use a sunshade, it won't cover the entire area, so there's still a potential problem.

Is this option good pretty much only for people who garage their cars both at home and at work?


The answer is yes. However, it is not inevitable. There are many classic cars with perfect leather interiors. The key is that just like your own skin, you need to clean and moisturize it. A properly moisturized leather dash will remain looking new for years. I apply leather conditioner to the dash every 2-3 weeks or so. And the dash is always supple to the touch. It will easily last 10+ years as long as you condition the leather on a monthly basis.

If you fail to maintain it, the leather can still be recovered, but then it will require more work. FYI - to apply conditioner to the leather dash takes all of 2 minutes. It's not hard at all.

What's the difference between "Finely structured Merino leather" and regular Merino leather? Does it really justify some of that $5K for individual leather?[/quote]

There is no difference in the actual leather. It is just the color. I have spent a lot of time studying the BMW leathers so you can trust this as fact.

However there is a difference in coverage. When you buy the Individual Extended leather, you also get the seat backs and the lower part of the dashboard in leather too. See this chart for further details. Basically everything except upper doors, lower doors and dash is leather with Individual Extended leather. So your $5000 is buying you more leather and a nicer color. However the value buy is still the full Merino which has full leather coverage for only $3500 extra.

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      07-12-2012, 09:20 PM   #5
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Thanks.

The individual leather option would be the ideal choice for me, but I find $5K to be way excessive for it, so I'll just stick to the extended leather.

Too bad about those front seat backs. BMW really shouldn't be doing it this way in a $90K car. Same with keyless entry - it should come standard, and definitely not require a very expensive package. It's kind of ridiculous to have to pay $10,500 if you want leather on the seat backs (without leather on the dashboard) and keyless entry. I'll live without those things if it saves me that kind of money...
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      07-13-2012, 12:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post
Thanks.

The individual leather option would be the ideal choice for me, but I find $5K to be way excessive for it, so I'll just stick to the extended leather.

Too bad about those front seat backs. BMW really shouldn't be doing it this way in a $90K car. Same with keyless entry - it should come standard, and definitely not require a very expensive package. It's kind of ridiculous to have to pay $10,500 if you want leather on the seat backs (without leather on the dashboard) and keyless entry. I'll live without those things if it saves me that kind of money...
I would encourage you to pay the $3500 and at least get full leather. It really makes the car seem like a $90,000 car. With the basic leather coverage, the plastic dash, plastic on the doors and plastic seat backs really do look cheap. It's not just that these parts are plastic, but also the fake leather grain doesn't match the real leather grain so it looks out of place.
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      07-13-2012, 01:12 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by stealth.pilot View Post
I would encourage you to pay the $3500 and at least get full leather. It really makes the car seem like a $90,000 car. With the basic leather coverage, the plastic dash, plastic on the doors and plastic seat backs really do look cheap. It's not just that these parts are plastic, but also the fake leather grain doesn't match the real leather grain so it looks out of place.
I'm ok with the plastic dash and the plastic on the doors - certainly not nearly as nice-looking as leather, but less hassle to maintain and more durable. It's really just the front seat backs that bother me - looks weird with Silverstone leather on one side, and a black plastic casing on the other, but I guess I'll live with it...
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      07-13-2012, 01:53 AM   #8
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I had full leather on E39 and E60.

Both require constant upkeep to retain shine. I always have to use leather protectant once every three months or so.

It was pain the rear to upkeep. The silverstone on my E60 did not age well and picks up dirty very easily.

I just got tired of keeping it look new. So i skip full leather this time around. In fact, if i can get a none leather car, i would do that.

I really don't care if this car is a $90k car. Luxury was not reason i am buying my 3rd M5. I just like the car itself.
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      07-13-2012, 02:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by krispykreme View Post
The silverstone on my E60 did not age well and picks up dirty very easily.
What color leather are you getting this time? I'm also concerned about how Silverstone will age, but this light color makes the car feel more spacious, so I like it. I find black too depressing/boring/constricting, and the orange doesn't work for me either. I like some of the individual colors, but I refuse to pay $5K for the privilege.
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      07-13-2012, 03:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post
What color leather are you getting this time? I'm also concerned about how Silverstone will age, but this light color makes the car feel more spacious, so I like it. I find black too depressing/boring/constricting, and the orange doesn't work for me either. I like some of the individual colors, but I refuse to pay $5K for the privilege.
I ended up going with black this time around.

I made a huge mistake on my E60. I went with aluminum trim with silverstone interior.

When new the light color really makes the car looks spacious. The aluminum were very reflective and looked great.

But after a while, the aluminum gloss faded and looked very dull.

My problem with leather is that I am the only driver and usually only person in the car. So the driver seat and armrest all worn much more faster than other seat. The silvesrstone driver seat turned into light gray while the other seats looks decent.

Just too much for me to constantly take care of it. So i gave up. I am going full black this time around.
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      07-13-2012, 03:23 AM   #11
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krispykreme,

Are you going with the piano black trim?

I'm hoping the aluminum trace trim will hold up ok thanks to its pattern. What do you think?

I had a car with black leather. It holds up great, but, well, it makes the interior look really dark, obviously...
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      07-13-2012, 04:00 AM   #12
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I have not seen the new F10 aluminum trims. But given my experience with E60, I don't want to touch it at all.

Yes, I am going with Piano Black wood trim with black leather (not full leather).

Just my interior is complete black this time around.
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      07-13-2012, 05:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post
krispykreme,

Are you going with the piano black trim?

I'm hoping the aluminum trace trim will hold up ok thanks to its pattern. What do you think?

I had a car with black leather. It holds up great, but, well, it makes the interior look really dark, obviously...
I had a M5 loaner when I visited Munich/BMW a few weeks ago and it was equipped with the Aluminum trim. It actually looked much better in person , it also felt very well made and solid . Not at all like the E60 trim .
It would have been my second option after the Piano Black trim.

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      07-13-2012, 08:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krispykreme View Post
I have not seen the new F10 aluminum trims. But given my experience with E60, I don't want to touch it at all.

Yes, I am going with Piano Black wood trim with black leather (not full leather).

Just my interior is complete black this time around.
This isn't a low maintenance interior either. The Piano Black is a very high maintenance finish. Has to be cleaned very carefully or it will scratch. and if it doesn't get cleaners it shows dust very easily. Some people end up buying a range of swissvax polishes and optimum detailer spray to clean this stuff to keep it looking new.

If you want lower maintenance get aluminum.

BTW not maintaining leather will just lead your leather to crack within a year or two if you park it in the sun. Black leather is no different to white leather when it comes to dehydration, creasing and cracking. This is why you have to condition it the same as a light leather.
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      07-13-2012, 09:22 AM   #15
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My 2008 535i after 53k miles and 4 years 7 month the tan leather still looks brand new. I have never used a conditioner or even wiped it. It has stood out in the open parking lots, under sun, snow everywhere still the seats looks brand new. My service manager is always shocked when he sees my car look brand new. I guess you just have to take care of your things.



Quote:
Originally Posted by stealth.pilot View Post
This isn't a low maintenance interior either. The Piano Black is a very high maintenance finish. Has to be cleaned very carefully or it will scratch. and if it doesn't get cleaners it shows dust very easily. Some people end up buying a range of swissvax polishes and optimum detailer spray to clean this stuff to keep it looking new.

If you want lower maintenance get aluminum.

BTW not maintaining leather will just lead your leather to crack within a year or two if you park it in the sun. Black leather is no different to white leather when it comes to dehydration, creasing and cracking. This is why you have to condition it the same as a light leather.
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      07-13-2012, 09:34 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by journeyguy View Post
My 2008 535i after 53k miles and 4 years 7 month the tan leather still looks brand new. I have never used a conditioner or even wiped it. It has stood out in the open parking lots, under sun, snow everywhere still the seats looks brand new. My service manager is always shocked when he sees my car look brand new. I guess you just have to take care of your things.
No need to be a jerk. Better to understand the facts.

Let me guess - you have Dakota leather? That won't crack because it is coated in a colored vinyl or polyurethane topcoat and these synthetic plastic finishes don't crack. Then they have a fake synthetic grain pattern printed onto the coated leather to make it look real. This is why the cheap Dakota leather in base 5 series and 3 series models feels a lot like the synthetic leather, and less like the high end Nappa and Merino leathers. Even Nappa has a light clear coating, but is not as protected as Dakota.

Merino in the M5 is a natural leather. No coating. Therefore more vulnerable.
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      07-13-2012, 10:10 AM   #17
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bmw should hire you in there R&D...dakota or merino or any shit...if you dont take good care .conditioner or any shit...means nothing.

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No need to be a jerk. Better to understand the facts.

Let me guess - you have Dakota leather? That won't crack because it is coated in a colored vinyl or polyurethane topcoat and these synthetic plastic finishes don't crack. Then they have a fake synthetic grain pattern printed onto the coated leather to make it look real. This is why the cheap Dakota leather in base 5 series and 3 series models feels a lot like the synthetic leather, and less like the high end Nappa and Merino leathers. Even Nappa has a light clear coating, but is not as protected as Dakota.

Merino in the M5 is a natural leather. No coating. Therefore more vulnerable.
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      07-13-2012, 10:35 AM   #18
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bmw should hire you in there R&D...dakota or merino or any shit...if you dont take good care .conditioner or any shit...means nothing.
Is merino leather, leather that comes from merino sheep?
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      07-13-2012, 10:54 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by journeyguy View Post
bmw should hire you in there R&D...dakota or merino or any shit...if you dont take good care .conditioner or any shit...means nothing.
Not sure what you are suggesting here, but the point is fairly reasonable. I'm just saying the leather in your 535i and the leather in this M5 are not the same thing. The former is effectively laminated and the other is not.

As an example if you pour water on the leather in a 535i it will bead. In an M5 the leather will get damp.
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      07-13-2012, 11:00 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by nybimmerfan View Post
Is merino leather, leather that comes from merino sheep?
I don't know. I have a feeling these are just marketing terms. But here is what the leather grades are in order of quality

1) Merino (M Cars and Individual Cars) - proper natural grain natural leather. It is dyed but not coated.
2) Nappa (optional on 5, 6 and 7) - semi-aniline leather. Has a light clear coating. For protection. Also natural grain and soft. Grain is not as high quality as Merino. Nappa is also used on the dash and upper door arms of the M5.
3) Novillo (M3) semi aniline with a synthetic grain
4) Dakota (3, 5 and 7 sedans) lower grade leather (not top coat leather like the others) and coated with a synthetic paint polymer. Embossed with a synthetic grain.

The higher on this list you go, the leather gets softer and more natural to the touch. However it wears less well.
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      07-13-2012, 12:04 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stealth.pilot View Post
I don't know. I have a feeling these are just marketing terms. But here is what the leather grades are in order of quality

1) Merino (M Cars and Individual Cars) - proper natural grain natural leather. It is dyed but not coated.
2) Nappa (optional on 5, 6 and 7) - semi-aniline leather. Has a light clear coating. For protection. Also natural grain and soft. Grain is not as high quality as Merino. Nappa is also used on the dash and upper door arms of the M5.
3) Novillo (M3) semi aniline with a synthetic grain
4) Dakota (3, 5 and 7 sedans) lower grade leather (not top coat leather like the others) and coated with a synthetic paint polymer. Embossed with a synthetic grain.

The higher on this list you go, the leather gets softer and more natural to the touch. However it wears less well.
I have never understood the real differences in all the different leathers. This is good info, thanks.

The black dakota leather in my 545i wore extremely well with very little maintenance, now I know why.

Stealthpilot which brand leather cleaner and conditioner do you use?
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      07-13-2012, 12:15 PM   #22
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yes, if I can also have this info....maybe merino needs more care

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Originally Posted by chrisratz View Post
I have never understood the real differences in all the different leathers. This is good info, thanks.

The black dakota leather in my 545i wore extremely well with very little maintenance, now I know why.

Stealthpilot which brand leather cleaner and conditioner do you use?
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