Wool Could Be the Next Leather?

Wool Could Be the Next Leather?

This is the kind of option buyers choose when they’re trying to be inherently different from others.

We car buyers have been classically conditioned over the decades to believe that leather upholstery is a worthy viable upgrade, one that signifies luxury in any vehicle, whether it be a mainstream compact or a six-figure vehicle. In recent years, manufacturers such as Porsche and Volvo have dabbled in providing alternatives, albeit usually for a price. This year’s development here is the availability of wool upholstering the seats of your Volvo. We spent some time behind the wheel of a 2021 Volvo V60 outfitted as such to find out if wool could be the next leather.

The last Porsche Taycan to grace our garage had a vegan leather-free interior, which came with a price tag of $5,000 on its own. Yeah, trust Porsche to charge more money to take away the leather, but things aren’t all that different at Volvo. The wool option here is only available on the upper-trim Inscription model, which comes standard with genuine leather. The wool is a $250 option that, in our eyes, is worth it. “Lesser” V60 Momentum models can be had with a City Weave textile fabric, which itself is stunning, wears well, and unique.

The wool interior is available in two colours, Zinc and Slate, with Linear Lime décor inlays, and there are also woolen inserts on the door panels. It’s a lovely look overall, but there are some limitations. The Inscription leather is perforated and also can be available with ventilated and massaging seats. Unfortunately, wool (much like City Weave), is heated only. That said, the material is very breathable and is known to stay relatively cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We noted that the heated seats aren’t quite as strong as they could be, either.

This is the kind of option buyers choose when they’re trying to be inherently different from others, and it shows. We searched Volvo’s inventory in Ontario at the time of this writing and couldn’t find a single car equipped with the wool interior for sale. Also, while enthusiasts and purists regularly lose their minds over unique specifications like this interior, the average buyer would look at this car and see a luxury car without leather interior.

And that’s just the problem – why? Why have we been trained to consider leather, or even leatherette, a necessary quality on a luxury vehicle? There are plenty of high-quality cloth upholstery options out there, and if you’re not a cloth interior kind of person, synthetic leather. It looks and feels like the real stuff, and often holds up substantially better to wear. BMW’s leatherette and Mercedes-Benz’s Artico upholstery is an excellent example of this.

I would think that it’d take a lot to get a customer interested in this $81,000 station wagon to accept the lack of leather interior, but Volvo buyers, just like traditional wagon buyers, embrace quirks. The interior on this V60 is an absolutely perfect place to be, and it would only be better with vented seats. But whether or not wool could be the next leather – that question can only be answered by more manufacturers offering alternatives. Bring on the creativity; we’re waiting with open arms!

Adi Desai
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