Kia Peddles "I Can't Believe It's Not Leather" In UK-Market Sportage

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
kia peddles i cant believe its not leather in uk market sportage

A Kia Sportage owner in the UK was in for a surprise after he found out that the “full leather” interior in his Kia Sportage was actually “…mainly plastic or vinyl.”

Dr Chris Castelli notified AutoExpress after a look at the car’s spec sheet revealed an added asterisk that wasn’t present at the time of Castelli’s purchase. The asterisk denotes “Some parts of the leather upholstery contain faux leather.”

AutoExpress contacted Kia regarding the matter, and a company rep said that the term “full leather” was intended to distinguish the interior from “partial leather”, which contains leather and cloth. Kia denied that there was any attempt to mislead customers and will discontinue use of the phrase, but did not offer compensation to owners.

Speaking to AutoExpress, Castelli remarked

“We all feel like we’ve been misled. The original brochure described ‘luxurious full leather’, but when you actually ask Kia about this, it turns out there’s actually very little leather used.

And now the million dollar question; is anything like this happening on our side of the pond? Everyone go to your cars, run your hand over the cowhide seat covers and see if it feels like an “ette” should be added to your “leather” upholstery.

Join the conversation
4 of 53 comments
  • Cyberc9000 Cyberc9000 on Oct 19, 2012

    VW advertises the leatherette in the Jetta and Passat as V-Tex leatherette, while advertising the higher quality leather in the Golf GTI Autobahn as full leather. So it would seem that VW, at least, is pretty honest in the US.

  • Lon888 Lon888 on Oct 19, 2012

    This isn't anything particularily new. My mom bought a new 1982 Nissan 280ZX "Grand Luxury Package" which was supposed to be a full leather interior. Like most cars, the only leather was only on the seating surfaces. Nissan did make it right, however, and sent her a check for about $900 for the misleading advertising.

  • Hachee Hachee on Oct 19, 2012

    Seems foolish to advertise it as “full leather”, when pretty much everyone else just says “seating surfaces” or something like that. Also seems foolish to expect your Kia to have full leather. I’ve always thought I’m someone who knows a good bit about cars. When I bought a 3 year old CPO 2004 BMW 325xi, I had seen lists of available cars in my area, and then when I zeroed in on the one I wanted, I saw the “features” list. It was pretty well equipped, with sunroof, wood, premium package, heated power seats both sides, and it said black leather, which I assumed it had because it had almost everything else. I got the car, and I since I always thought the leather grade in the 3 Series wasn’t so great, I wasn’t that surprised that it was pretty firm and not so supple. The car also had that “BMW/German” smell that’s so distinctive. It wasn’t until quite a while later that I thought “this isn't leather, it’s leatherette (ok, vinyl).” And the truth is, I really don’t care. It’s easy to keep clean, and I figure it’s got to be better than leather in the long run, and I plan to keep the car, since I barely use it. It’s 9 years old and has 35,000 miles, and it feels brand new.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Oct 19, 2012

    Had this problem in a 2005 Chrysler 300C. Only the center of the seat was leather, and it was obvious since Chrysler chose vinyl with the wrong grain. Terrible, terrible construction on that 300C.