I've decided leather seats in cars are just not as good as cloth. It's something I realized in the GTI. My previous five cars have had leather seats and I haven't been with cloth since 1997 with another Volkswagen, my Jetta. I've always thought of leather as premium, better in every way, but I'm having my doubts.
The problem with leather is it's always too hot or too cold, and once it's taken on a temperature, it's difficult to coax it to change. Leather is recalcitrant. It's also slick and doesn't hold you in your seat when you drive aggressively unless you have enormous side bolsters. I like enormous side bolsters, but they're hard to sell to the American market with our increased ... girth. And finally, most of the surfaces you actually touch in a car with leather are plastic rather than leather, while most of my surfaces are cloth. Sure, you're sitting on leather in a leather seated car, but most arm rests are plastic, most seat bolsters are plastic, and the steering wheel is usually wrapped in plastic.
The GTI thankfully covers those plastic surfaces in cloth, with the steering wheel leather wrapped. I suppose I would call the GTI's interior "premium cloth" since some of these features are exceptional. You're going to be touching a lot of plastic in your average leather car interior.
When shopping for a GTI, you don't realize these premium additions, you just see check boxes and enormous sticker prices for things like leather and think cheapness when you see cloth. In fact, to get leather in the GTI, you need to spend $30,000 to get the top of the line Autobahn package. That leather option requires a sunroof, a navigation system and some cooler wheels. So if you really can't see yourself without leather, you might also have a problem seeing yourself in a $30,000 Golf. I would need convincing why I'm not driving an Audi or BMW (I know why, repair costs).
The down side is cloth is harder to clean. I feel a little ridiculous doing it, but I use a lint roller on all those cloth surfaces about once a week. I've noticed that my allergic reactions to dust and pollen have disappeared in the new car and I want to keep it that way. It's likely a combination of keeping the interior clean and regularly changing out the cabin air filter. So there I am rolling my little lint roller along all the cloth surfaces like some OCD nut case. Cleaning my car turned out to be my new Summer exercise program, by the way.
The other down side is that most cloth interiors look like hell to start with and only get worse over time. Sit in a five year old used Civic on a used car lot and you'll see what I mean. It's pretty disgusting. I'm told the GTI seats keep looking good for many years, but we'll see.