A new term for their fake leather has been developed by Mercedes – Artico leather. It means artificial or man-made leather. However, the word “artificial leather” is perhaps too pessimistic. There is a really fine line between marketing their merchandise, being fair with consumers and complying with all conditions for material declaration as well.
There is nothing wrong with Artico leather since it is not genuine, customers just have to consider all the pros and cons before buying the auto with the seats and interior made of this leather type.
How to distinguish Artico leather?
In the production of Artico Leather, Mercedes designers were very smart, made it look and feel just like standard pigmented leather.
This description of this material does not appear to be compliant with European standards. The standards clearly stipulate that only when genuine leather is processed can the term leather be used. Artificial leather suppliers’ effort to define their material as accurately as possible to leather but it is not quite fair.
The mean thickness of the Artico’s upper layer, however applied, should be 0.15 mm or less if the leather has a surface coating and does not exceed 30% of the total thickness parameter.
If the tanned hide or skin is mechanically and/or chemically disintegrated into fibrous droplets, small pieces or powder and then made into sheets with/without the combination of a binding agent, then these sheets are not real leather by definition. And that is how you should distinguish Artico leather – durable, cheap and eco-friendly fake fabric that resembles the leather made of animal hide.
How are Artico seats different from real leather seats?
Elasticity. The key difference is in the material’s elasticity. In general, genuine leather has the best pliability in all directions. Artificial material like Artico stretches to a lesser extent or doesn’t stretch at all. The manufacturer should take into account this factor very seriously, otherwise, the faux leather seats may tear instead of stretch during the active use.
Repair. When defects, folds and scratches appear, natural leather can be repaired, tinted and restored. With artificial leather seats, it is almost impossible. Generally, high-quality eco-leather is more wear-resistant and durable, but at the same time, it is extremely difficult to restore.
Odor. Genuine leather has a natural, slightly noticeable scent, while Artico leather smells like any synthetic materials. Think of vinyl upholstery in your dad’s car during the hot summer days. This smell is recognized immediately.
Print. Genuine leather has a natural, unique pattern. Any artificial leather has a pattern that is repeated. However, Artico can be easily confused with naturally pigmented leather.
Texture. Real animal skin is soft and firm. It has a soft, uniform texture and when pressed and stretched quickly regains its shape. The natural leather does not change its color at the places of bending, while Artico instantly gets the folds. The reverse surface of genuine leather is velvety by touch and even reminds of natural suede.
Reaction to the environmental conditions. Artico as an artificial material has an undeniable advantage when used outdoors. It is not affected by moisture, ultraviolet radiation and fungus. When water gets on natural leather, it is absorbed and a small dark spot remains on the skin until the moisture is completely removed from the skin surface. On the contrary, Artico does not absorb moisture. That is why this material is more preferable for the convertible Mercedes cars.
In fact, the quality of modern artificial materials (like Artico) imitating natural leather is so high that even a specialist finds it difficult to determine the origin of the material in a car’s interior.
The main thing you need to remember: Artico is a man-made substitute for real leather that was designed and created by Mercedes. This material resembles the combination of real leather upholstery and vinyl cloth in trim ranges.
As you may have guessed, the Artico Leather type is mostly used in genuine Mercedes vehicles, especially C/GLC-class automobiles when the brand offers artificial leather seats in the interior. Pay attention to the fact that after a few customer and dealer claims, Mercedes has to specify when Artico and real leather is used.
Mostly, Mercedes leather upholstery contains certain areas with synthetic Artico material and real leather inserts for sturdiness. Such a combination is better than Artico itself because of the increased durability.
Benefits and drawbacks Artico leather
As Artico leather is more appropriate to vegans, Mercedes defines the fabric as it also attracts for its price.
- Budget-friendly compared to real leather;
- Eco-friendly because no animals harmed in the production;
- Vegan-friendly due to the same reasons;
- Resembles real leather;
- Good wear and tear-resistant properties;
- UV light won’t destroy this leather type;
- Needs less maintenance compared to real leather;
- A lot of colors and prints are available;
- Feels like plastic;
- May become sticky when the Artico leather is hot;
- Doesn’t have a genuine leather smell;
- Trade descriptions can be confusing. Keep in mind that Artico leather is fake, artificial material;
The greatest benefit of Artico leather, both for the maker and the consumer, is its low quality. For instance, while Artico leather seats in S and SE trims are normal in a Mercedes C-Class, leather upholstery is only equipped with Sport Edition trim, which values around $1,500.
Man-made leather substitutes such as Artico, too, have a few possible benefits. An increasing number of consumers may not want to drive a vehicle with animal hides but might also prefer fabric seats to look and sound as real leather. It should be remembered that in some interior areas, even cars upholstered in Artico leather can also have genuine leather inserts, such as the gear lever and steering wheel.
Since it is durable and does not need the professional cleaning products that real leather does, Artico may even be convenient for most families with little kids and animals. Also, this hypoallergenic and eco-friendly material can be a good option for people with sensitive skin.
Care and maintenance
It is best not to apply a product with mineral oils while treating your fake leather, the care must be taken about what materials you choose since these will cause harm to the leather lining, it is safer to choose a treatment that leaves a coating behind to help avoid the build-up of soil and transfer of color.
Artico is very durable and immune to stains, so cleaning should not be required very much. Consider just using a microfiber towel and a tiny volume of warm water for mild mud and drops, wiping away some grime. When washed, to suck up some of the moisture, it may also be useful to pat the area with a dry cloth and then allow the seat to dry with a window open for airflow.
A multipurpose car upholstery cleaner ought to be appropriate for harder stains, but always examine the back of the bottle for guidance about what products it should and can’t be applied to, and first measure the substance on a secret region.
Artico’s cleaning and treatment do not differentiate from other fake leather.
Artico leather seats, like any other upholstery, are better to be cleaned occasionally until they get too dirty. The process of cleaning the Artico leather seats in Mercedes cars includes:
- Dry cleaning with a vacuum cleaner that is equipped with a brush attachment (soft bristle). This brush will help to remove large debris and dust;
- Wet cleaning with a microfiber cloth dipped in warm clean water. For stubborn dirt, add detergent or dish soap to this water. Important notice! The soap solution should not be very concentrated;
- Use the treatment with special compounds for eco-leather and vinyl materials. Such care products may reduce dust settling and help remove stains in the future;
To restore the new look of these seats, use products based on glycerin, wax and natural (not mineral) oils. And you can try to remove the stain with soapy water: soak the Artico leather area with a soft cloth, do not wipe for 30-60 minutes. Remove residual moisture with dry microfiber. If this method does not help, apply a faux leather stain remover.
Artico is basically a vinyl cloth, but Mercedes keeps improving and intensifying this material. At this point, non-professionals may find it difficult to distinguish Artico leather seats from genuine leather seats, though the first option is more affordable. Nonetheless, it has a few drawbacks as well. Consider all the benefits and drawbacks before investing in a new Mercedes vehicle with Artico leather seats.