MB Tex Interior Explained
Many people have no idea that the brand new $60,000 SUV they just test drove at the Mercedes dealership probably doesn’t have leather seats. Most Mercedes-Benz interiors are upholstered with Mercedes’ proprietary faux leather, a vinyl material called MB Tex. It looks a lot like leather, and is often mistaken for real leather, but is much more durable and lasts, seemingly, forever without cracking or wearing. They’ve been making MB Tex and using it in all kinds of Mercedes since the mid 1960s.
MB Tex has been the standard interior material for many Mercedes vehicles for many years, at least since the early 1960s. My 1965 230 SL Roadster was equipped with MB Tex interior. 50 years later, that car had its original interior and it was in pretty good condition. Had it been equipped with optional leather there is no doubt it would have cracked and dried out long ago requiring re-upholstery of the interior.
MB Tex has evolved over the years. It’s texture has changed, and changes depending upon the model. Below you will see various models from the 1960s to present day that are equipped with MB tex interior upholstery with close ups of the seating surfaces.
MB Tex in Modern Mercedes Models
Most recently, say, in the last 15 years, MB tex has been the standard interior material in the C and E class sedans, the GLK, M and GL class SUVs, and now – since they switched the names of all the different ‘classes’ – the GLC, GLE and GLS model SUVs and still, C and E class cars, among other models.. Imagine, an $80,000 GLE SUV, doesn’t come standard with leather interior?! That’s right. Higher end models, like the S class and CLS class as well as SL roadsters come standard with leather.
More durable and easier to care for than leather
If MB tex gets dirty, you can spray it down with most any cleaner and scrub off whatever is on the seat. Leather interior requires regular conditioning to keep it in good shape and is prone to drying out and cracking over time.
Most classifieds I see with used Mercedes for sale, whether dealers or private sellers, wrongly call the interior of the car they’re selling ‘leather’ when it’s really MB tex. They just don’t’ know any better and assume that what they’re looking at is, indeed leather.
There is no shame in having a car with MB tex, in fact, for an everyday car that hauls the family and the necessities of life, it might actually be a better long term choice than leather.
Scroll down for an illustrated study of MB tex interiors over the years.
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I have the MB tex. I was talked out of the leather. Big mistake!! 43k miles and its cracked, dealer said too bad not under warranty. I’m 125 pounds, it has tinted windows and is garaged. My 20 yr, 300k mile pontaic leather seats are in better condition. Regretting my Mercedes purchase!
That’s bizarre Deborah, I’ve never heard of such a thing… you must have bought a new car, recently? Even with Mercedes… the saying ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ is true. In my opinion, the Mercedes made in the last 5 or so years just don’t have the build quality or quality materials that will allow them to last for 40 0r 50 years like the Mercedes of the 60s and 70s had. Sad reality of our ‘disposable’ world.
I feel you on that, all the e class e350s I look at, have a deep split in the middle of the seat, Even my brothers has the split. I wanted a e550 because I figured it was real leather, now I don’t know what to believe. My cousin has a c250 and his leather seat is ripped where he sits… Benz has to do better.
I have had an MBZ C230 1999 since 1999 with MBZ Tex and it still looks great.
I’ve seen 30+ year old cars with MB tex and it was still going strong. Enjoy that ’99 C class!
I recently purchased a Certified Pre-Owned 2014 GLK 350, 70,000 miles with MB-Tex seats and they re in perfect, factory-new condition. There is absolutely no wrinkling or tearing at the seams on the left-side driver’s seat, as would be expected with a 5-yr old car with 70K. All nine of my other cars started to show wear at between 25-40K. I’ve very impressed with the MB-Tex.
Glad to hear it Ralph. The stuff is tough, but still looks and feels good in a daily driver.
who makes mb-tex for mercedes?
A good question… one that I don’t know the answer to. Sorry.
[…] Mercedes C 300 4matic Sedan Polar White w/ black MB Tex interior (read my article about MB tex if you’re not sure what it is) 22,780 miles Options include: Sport Package, P1 Package, Panorama Sunroof Selling Dealer: Sears […]
My 190E 16-valve has the factory-original genuine leather seats in them (one of the few Mercedes I’ve been in with legitimate leather), while my mom’s W204 C300 has MB-tex upholstery. It is hardly the fairest comparison because my car is over 30 years old and my mom’s car is less than 10 years old. But I do think MB-tex has been improved to the point that I can’t tell it apart from real leather. While the leather inside of my car is undoubtedly high quality stuff, I do want to have it professionally detailed sometime soon. The stitching on the driver’s seat is coming apart a little bit and it bothers me to see that every time I drive it because the rest of the car is in amazing condition. And because it is a low mileage car, I have a strong incentive in keeping it as close to perfect as possible. I sincerely doubt my mom will have to worry about things like this in her own car 20-30 years down the road.
IMO, the only modern-day cars worth having leather interiors in are British cars like Land Rovers and Jaguars, because the British seem to take leather interiors the most seriously in the entire car business.
I have been a MB owner since 1999 and was quite satusfied until I purchased a 2008 E350 and later found out that my seats were not Leather! Poor quality, severe cracks and unrepairable! I have not been able to find the material to repair my front seat. Corporate recommended purchasing a NEW car or purchasing a new seat for $900 from MBUSA which is an absolute rip off!
Hi Andrea. There is replacement material for MB tex seats that need repair. The dealership where I used to work routinely repairs C and E class seats, usually the driver’s side outboard seat bolster that cracks over time. I would think your local dealer could have their reconditioning department do it for you, they do it all the time on the used cars and trade ins that they get and they clean up / recondition to sell again as used cars.
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Very interesting!. We have owned several Mercedes (and own 2 now). We have always assumed that the interiors were/are leather. I am on the hunt for a low mileage SLK right now. One & only one of the cars I have found on line mentioned MB-Tex in the description . I was thinking what the???? Then I found your blog. Being a vegetarian – it actually makes me quite happy knowing that many of the cars are NOT leather (with a leather look). Thanks for the info and explanation. Got any tips about any “bugs” to be aware of in the SLKs?
Hi there. MOST SLKs will have real leather seating surfaces… 2010 and newer anyway, most MB ‘specialty models’ do… SL, SLK, CLS, etc.
I purchased a brand new Mercedes in 2015. I am already replacing my seat cover for the third time. MB Tex is garbage. I tried all types of cleaners on it and it will not clean and the vinyl is peeling off terrible at all the seams. Its garbage! I will never purchase a car with this crap. They say its durable, REALLY? Is crap! You cant clean it and the layers start peeling off eventually. I am completely disgusted that Mercedes puts this in just about all of their vehicles until you get up into the 100K price range of their vehicles. Yet I was looking today at new Genesis and Hyundais that were much less in price that come standard with leather. Go figure. Mercedes, you have really let me down
I have a 2013 ML350 with Bluetec. The MBTex drivers side bolster is losing the top layer. Talked to a local upholstery shop and they said it is a common problem. In addition to having many problems with the diesel emissions scandal, and the crummy seats, I am done with Mercedes! My 1999 E320 Mercedes is the best car I have ever owned. The ML350 is the worst car I have ever owned.
I wouldn’t disagree Larry… seems the newer MB tex that has been in use since the mid 2000s is inferior to the old stuff. My 1970 280 SE has its original MB Tex and it looks perfect… My wife’s GLK, since writing the MB tex article a few years ago, has started to have the same problem as yours! ‘They don’t make them like they used to.’ I’ve seen the same issue on BMW seats, 3 series, X1, X3.
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My 2012 GL350 drivers seat has lost its cover completely! It came off in flakes each time i sat in the seat. MB-Tex does not compare to real laether.
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