Sustainability is one of the most prominent growing trends in the car industry right now. As a result, it’s perhaps no surprise that many carmakers are moving away from using animal products in favour of man-made alternatives.
Thanks to features such faux-leather steering wheels, fabric upholstery and trim made from natural fibres, these 10 cars that do a great job at replacing interior materials like leather with more sustainable substances.
- BMW 3 Series
- Fiat 500 Hybrid
- Range Rover Evoque
- Mini Hatchback
- Polestar 2
- Tesla Model 3
- Renault Clio
- Dacia Sandero
- SsangYong Tivoli
- Suzuki S-Cross
BMW 3 Series
Premium saloons are usually associated with having lashings of leather, though the latest BMW 3 Series is part of the new breed of executive cars beginning to buck that trend. Avoiding leather entirely will admittedly limit you to the entry-level SE trim, though you can at least replace the standard cloth seats on this spec with BMW’s Sensatec faux-leather upholstery if you’d prefer something that looks and feels a bit more upmarket.
Fiat 500 Hybrid
If you’re after an animal-friendly urban runabout, you can certainly do worse than go for a new Fiat 500 Hybrid. In entry-level Pop and Pop Star trims, the dinky little city car has seats trimmed in grey and black fabric, and the steering wheel is wrapped in artificial leather. Do bear in mind, though, that real leather is used on the steering wheel and seats on higher-spec Lounge models.
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
As standard, the Range Rover Evoque isn’t exactly a vegan-friendly option, given its interior is trimmed in plenty of leather. However, Land Rover gives you the option to swap out the cowhides at no additional cost for a steering wheel wrapped in faux-suede and seat upholstery made out of eucalyptus fibres.
Land Rover also offers a no-cost optional Kvadrat synthetic seat material as a substitute for leather. Do bear in mind, though, that Land Rover’s Kvadrat trim is made from wool.
The Fiat 500 isn’t the only retro hatchback with animal-friendly credentials – the Mini hatchback also has lots of man-made materials in its interior. Going down the vegan route limits you to the entry-level Classic spec with cloth seats, and synthetic leather on the gear lever and handbrake.
A word of warning about the sporty Cooper S version in the Classic trim, though: while it does still come as standard with the cloth upholstery and faux-leather handbrake trim, it’s only available with a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel.
Polestar claims to be very committed to sustainability, so it’s not surprising the Polestar 2 all-electric saloon comes out of the box with a vegan-friendly interior. The car’s steering wheel is trimmed in faux-leather, for instance, and the seats are upholstered in a man-made WeaveTech material that Polestar says was inspired by wetsuits.
That said, Polestar will trim the 2’s interior in leather for buyers who are willing to spend an extra £4,000 on the optional Nappa leather seat upholstery.
Tesla Model 3
Like the Polestar 2, the Tesla Model 3 is another electric car that comes as standard with synthetic substances throughout its cabin. In fact, Tesla claims the electric saloon’s interior is 100% leather-free. There’s no way of adding leather to the car through optional extras – the Model 3’s interior can only be specified with synthetic faux-leather for pieces like the seats and steering wheel.
The latest Renault Clio has quite a snazzy interior, and it’s made even better by the fact it can come completely devoid of leather. Go for the entry-level Play or mid-range Iconic spec, and your Clio’s cabin will have seats trimmed in black cloth, and a steering wheel wrapped in artificial leather. Make sure to avoid the higher grades and the new hybrid version of the Renault, though, because these come with leather seat- and steering-wheel trim as standard.
The Dacia Sandero supermini is the most affordable new car you can currently buy in the UK, so it perhaps isn’t a shock the car doesn’t have the leather bits and bobs you tend to find in more expensive alternatives. All Dacia Sanderos come with cloth seats as standard and the only version available with any leather trim at all is the top-spec Comfort model – and even then, it’s only offered as an optional extra.
The SsangYong Tivoli isn’t the most popular crossover on the market, though it should definitely be on your radar if you’re after a vegan-friendly small SUV. Go for the entry-level EX version, and the SsangYong will come with fabric seats and faux-leather trim on the steering wheel. While the mid-range ELX and Ventura versions also have animal-friendly seats, courtesy of the part-cloth, part-faux-leather upholstery, it’s important to note they do use real leather on the steering wheel and gear knob.
Your choices of vegan-friendly small SUVs aren’t limited to the SsangYong, either, because the Suzuki S-Cross can also be specified without any animal-sourced trim inside. In its entry-level SZ4 guise, the S-Cross does without leather trimmings in favour of cloth seats and synthetic material on the steering wheel – though, as with many other cars on this list, the base spec is the only one that’s completely devoid of leather.
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