Back To Its Winning Ways
It’s been wild, and it’s been mild, but throughout its nearly 20-year history, the rally-inspired Subaru WRX has been the gateway to Subaru high performance. Well, 2022 starts a 5th generation of this iconic all-wheel-drive boy racer, so let’s find out if it still has a place in the modern sporty car landscape.
It’s hard to believe the Subaru WRX has been available here in the U.S. for 20-years now. Sales numbers aren’t quite what they used to be, as Subaru has focused more attention on money-making crossovers and of course the awesome BRZ sport coupe. But, for 2022, they’re looking to get the Subaru WRX sedan back to its winning ways.
The most powerful standard engine ever in a WRX is a great place to start. The new 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo whips up 271-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. That’s only 3 additional horsepower, and the same amount of torque as before, but it delivers that torque in a much broader fashion.
A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, as is all-wheel-drive, of course. If you prefer an automatic, you’re still stuck with a CVT, though Subaru claims they’ve made it much more responsive and improved the simulated shift quality; and felt that that was enough to now call it the Subaru Performance Transmission.
The suspension gets a minor overhaul as well, with front struts featuring new internal rebound springs. The rear stabilizer bar is now mounted directly to the body instead of the subframe. An upcoming WRX GT model will get electronic Adjustable Ride Control dampers. New dual-pinion quick ratio steering is electric-assisted; it was very direct, with good feel that was neither too light nor too heavy.
As is usual with the WRX, there was a tremendous amount of grip through our handling course; the 245/40/18 Michelins providing a planted feel. Very little body roll and great balance had us pushing harder and harder, and enjoying every minute of it. Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control gets a new Track mode in the GT, plus more customizable adjustments to steering feel and damper settings. Brakes are mostly the same as before, but worked great, helping the car feel super solid and stable in panic stops from 60 that averaged just 104-feet.
As for picking up speed, it’s still not the most exhilarating off the line; but the all-wheel-drive grip does make it easy. But, even with the couple extra horsepower, it took us half a second longer than before to reach 60 miles-per-hour, arriving in 6.1-seconds.
On the other hand, the shifter is excellent, with short throws, tight feel, and positive engagements. Torque delivery stays pretty consistent, with no big hits or drop-offs; our best ¼-mile time was 14.6-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
While still based on the same platform as the Impreza, the WRX shares very little with it these days, and nothing at all when it comes to the exterior. It’s slightly bigger than before, but in order to keep weight in check, front fenders are now made of aluminum. There’s substantial cladding around the lower body and wheel arches with aerodynamic texturing; and of course, Subaru’s trademark grille, and new LED headlights. And despite not going overboard with wings and add-ons, much has been done to manage airflow; underbody treatments, air extractors in the front fenders, and a low-profile rear spoiler. It looks more grown up, but with a playful edge to remind you what it’s all about.
The WRX has always boasted an interior that was delightfully simple yet purposeful; and while they’ve introduced a giant 11.6-inch tablet into the space, they’ve done it without totally killing the vibe. There are still plenty of manual controls, and a great set of analog gauges behind a new flat-bottom steering wheel; plus, some nice Ultra-suede materials.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 19-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined; we averaged a good 23.8 miles-per-gallon of Premium. That’s an average Energy Impact Score, using 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with 6.7-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing remains more than competitive, starting $30,065 with top GT beginning at $42,855.
Much that we’ve loved about the first 4 generations of the WRX, remains in this 2022 Subaru WRX; plus, there’s better tech, improved handling, and a bit more power than ever. It still may not be enough to keep it relevant in the shifting automotive landscape, but we’ll keep on thoroughly enjoying the WRX as long as Subaru allows.
Engine: 2.4L flat-4 turbo
Torque: 258 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.6 seconds at 98mph
EPA: 19 City / 26 Highway / 22 Combined