By on September 10, 2021

While a slew of vehicles has swum in its wake, nothing has been able to replace the Subaru WRX as the world’s favorite road-going rally car. Despite owing its own existence to the original Audi Quattro, the souped-up Impreza become synonymous with vehicular hooliganism and (for some reason) vaping.

Delivered onto the United States as part of the 2002 model year, the WRX has been maturing as slowly as its hardcore fan base of two decades. This remains apparent as the company has opted to give the car a new platform, new engine, and an updated appearance while adhering closely to the fundamentals. That means customers should be getting more of what they wanted out of the car — at least in the relative sense. 

Now riding on the ubiquitous Subaru Global Platform, the 2022 WRX’s turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four only sees a three-horsepower bump over its predecessor. Whereas the last incarnation of the all-wheel-drive model enjoyed 268 hp, the new one is delivering 271 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. Gleefully, the manufacturer said the engine could be mated to either continuously variable automatic transmission or a six-speed manual (with a real handbrake) that’s likely to be the more enjoyable option.

While we’re wondering about the implications of the WRX suddenly sharing a platform with SUVs, the company claims the swap is providing the model with a lower center of gravity and superior rigidity. Subaru says suspension mounting points are now 75 percent more rigid (vs the previous generation) while the chassis’ overall torsional rigidity goes up by 28 percent. The upgrade also comes with electronically controlled dampers, improved steering feedback, and a swaybar that’s been mounted to the chassis (instead of the subframe) to reduce roll. Noise, vibration, and harshness are also supposed to be much improved.

Frankly, the marketing makes the old model sound like it was made out of sewn-together garbage. But don’t forget that the company now wants to sell you the new one and has every interest to make it sound like the 2022 model year is changing the game.

That may be true but you’re not going to notice that from the outside. Despite being loaded with touches to distinguish itself from prior generations, the 2022 model year isn’t mesmerizing to behold. The silhouette is largely the same as before, with the new model getting more modern lamps (fore and aft) and some toned-down touches from the VIZIV concept vehicles. Your author doesn’t find it particularly attractive, though that’s been true of most Impreza models — some of which later grew on me like a fungus (e.g. Blobeye, Bugeye, and VA).

Regardless, those who just want the car for its performance chops know that the aftermarket will have plenty of options to spruce up the exterior in a couple of years. Until then, the WRX comes with 17- or 18-inch wheels are available that you can get with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx summer rubber, big fenders, and a rather aggressive hood scoop.

But the sense we’re getting is that Subaru is trying to refine the car to appeal to a broader market and a core audience that’s no longer fresh out of high school. Press materials include a sizable amount of text explaining how the car is more comfortable than before, whilst retaining its existing performance chops. The previous central display (which topped out at 7.0 inches) now defaults to an 11.6-inch touchscreen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) that’s clearly supposed to be the central focus of the cabin. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology with new safety and convenience features are likewise available. These are the kinds of things you’d expect to hear about the next Ford Explorer, not a zippy sport compact designed to be thrashed year-round.

Those dissatisfied with standard WRX may want to step up to the GT model. While other trims (Premium and Limited) focus on delivering amenities, the GT adds adaptive dampers with multiple suspension settings, unique 18-inch wheels, summer tires, and suede Recaro front seats. The STI model is also supposed to arrive in the near future with a motor rumored to output 400 horsepower.

Subaru’s recipe for the WRX has worked so well that the car has managed to outlive nearly all of its historic rivals. But peripheral competition has been on the rise of late, most of which has resulted in cars a bit more garish than Subaru is willing to get and manage to keep their prices low by sticking with front-wheel drive (e.g. Veloster N). We’re thinking Subaru wants to hold the space it has and target the WRX right between the less-powerful, front-wheel-drive Volkswagen GTI and harsher cars bent exclusively toward delivering performance. That presumably means enhanced livability at the expense of maximizing thrills. But a more comfortable WRX isn’t necessarily a bad thing (as Subaru was heading in that direction anyway) and we’ve yet to see how it stacks up in the real world. It may yet eviscerate everything else in its price range, which is TBD but likely to stay under $30,000, along with a few AWD vehicles carrying loftier MSRPs.

[Images: Subaru]

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30 Comments on “2022 Subaru WRX: Everything You’d Expect...”

  • avatar
    Paul Mindemann

    It’s probably not a good thing when a brand-new car already looks like it’s about 10 years old.

    The highest compliment I could must after seeing it was… “uh, ok.”

  • avatar

    I’m confused. Is there a WRX model WITHOUT the black lower cladding and flares? It seems like they’re trying to re-ignite the Outback SUS with these photos.

  • avatar

    Still ugly after all these years. Looks like a Crosstrek sedan.

  • avatar

    It looks very Outback-like I agree. Reminds me of the old Outback sedans before they canceled them at some point they early 2000s.

    Definitely going more for the CUV type crowd. As an Outback owner myself that’s OK but not my thing in a performance car. But I suspect it will do very well and will compete against the Kona N and other hot rod crossovers which will undoubtedly be coming.

  • avatar

    The Wrangler of the sedan segment.

  • avatar

    Eh, I kinda like it, but I’m a Subaru apologist. It’s still not as garish as a CTR of Elantra N. I wonder if this is essentially a preview of the next Impreza that’s due next year (and can’t come soon enough).

  • avatar

    Good Lord, Subaru, MUST you put black cladding on this too? Really?

    Well, that’s off my chest.

    I drove a ’21 WRX a couple of months ago, and a bit more maturity would have definitely been welcome. It was a hoot, and AWD is a nice-to-have around here, but the rough ride and general street-rat schtick would have gotten old VERY quickly for me.

  • avatar

    I opened twitter this morning to huge talk of cladding and disappointment. I quickly did a search thinking Subaru had pulled a 90’s Pontiac worth of cladding, only to find a new wrx that many non car people will confuse with the previous gen.
    Basically it looks like a WRX not sure what more you could ask for.

  • avatar

    Finally, something new other than a damn truck, or the 7th special edition version of a miniature school bus.

    The article is of course written by someone who knows eff all about Subarus. I would suggest reading even dreaded Wikipedia to get the basics correct before unloading this load of tosh opinion on readers.

    The original WRX was a response to the Mitsubishi EVO, and arrived on world markets in 1992/93 in limited numbers that quickly grew. Nothing to do with the Audi Quattro that came out in 1980. I know, I owned a last gen original ’87 Quattro sedan non-turbo with a rarin’-to-go 115 steaming horsepower, and then a 195hp ’90 Talon AWD turbo which was the coupe version of the EVO underneath, and a far better AWD system than the Audi, plus being about twice as quick for two-thirds the money and didn’t go wrong every five minutes.

    I followed the WRX’s trajectory for a decade before Subaru finally brought it to North America in 2002. By then, the British police were phasing them out after a good five to seven years of duty, treating their bums to Volvos instead at taxpayer expense — the WRXs had been on the market that long already. Jeez, even LJK Setright had written about the WRX before we got them here. Audi had stopped making real Quattros back in the late 1980s, fer goodness sake, and the shorty rally version even before that. The WRX competed with European Fords and EVOs in world rally, not Quattros. I had another car in 2002 so couldn’t persuade myself to buy a WRX then.

    Gosh, next thing you know TTAC’ll be attempting to tell us how the limited slip feature works on the WRX’s center differential, and likely getting it wrong.

    The chassis on this new model is the Subaru Global Platform that first arrived in the 2017 Impreza, with the highest torsional stiffness of any production car. Too bad about the rest of the current Impreza, which was and is like the same car in Crosstrek form, entirely forgettable to drive, and a crashing bore with terrible straight line directional stability. Had one for a weekend, so I unfortunately know.

    Having driven the previous (current?) WRX on an overnight loan, which came out in 2015, I believe, I would have to say it didn’t seem like 268 horsepower to me. But it handled pretty well. So hopefully, this 271 hp new one, a whole 3 up from an extra 400 cc, is actually the real thing this time with some guts. Again hopefully, reading about some features on other websites about this new car’s suspension and steering gear, Subaru will have exorcised the dartiness of the current Impreza from the mix.

    When it finally arrives next Spring, I’ll have to have a go. Hate the dash, not keen on plastic wheel-arch covers at all, and well, the looks are generic. So it’ll all be down to how nicely it drives.

    Like I said, at least it’s not a truck. Fed up reading about those road crusher heavyweights and the constant going on and harping about towing and this and that ad-boring-infinitum, or trying to do more than yawn about some generic two box SUV/CUV/crossover lowest common denominator crud. Need a real gas eating AWD car at a reasonable price before we are all reduced to humming around in EVs.

  • avatar

    I’ve had the GTI’s DSG for 4 years now, and that makes me dismiss CVT completely.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A WRX is the only car I’ve four-wheel drifted (by accident, at the behest of its owner in the passenger seat), nearly meeting oncoming traffic in dramatic fashion. Dumb on my part, but memorable.

    Although I still hate boxer engines, I respect the WRX for Subaru’s successful formula. But a CVT option? That’s heresy.

    And that handbrake looks just like the one in the Crosstrek that smashes into my thigh. For ergonomic reasons alone, I couldn’t own such a car.

  • avatar

    Subarus have never really been good looking. The Legacy GT from 2000’s is probably the best looking car they have made since the SVX. Still, I always find myself considering the Outback Everytime I am out searching for a new ride.

    This technically has the winning formula that has made the WRX great. I have always thought it as the best bang for your buck performance and is basically the point at which performance cars get diminishing returns the more money you spend.

    Still, I can’t help but think this design was beaten badly with the ugly stick at every turn through it’s design. Subaru, you don’t HAVE to make homely cars. SMH

  • avatar

    Generic Japanese car for dogs. I would say 10 y.o. Corolla for dogs. My doggie would like it. The only problem is that I don’t have doggie, I have a cat.

  • avatar

    I have followed WRX since the late 90s when these things became popular overseas and the one constant is that the WRX fans hate every new generation when its revealed.

    The looks are subjective but the rest of the specs seem just fine to me. Don’t get hung up on peak power – its all about how it will deliver it and if they have reduced turbo lag and improved low end response then this should be an awesome all season ride.

  • avatar

    Make mine any Mazda.

  • avatar

    If it were just about the car, it would be pretty appealing as an urban fun car in a bad-weather city.

    But given the assumptions made about WRX drivers, which are usually correct, I’d have to put a paper bag over my head when driving. That limits driving fun.

  • avatar

    What in the living hell are they teaching in car design school? It looks like everyone gets an award for trying and no-one’s design is better than anyone else’s.

  • avatar

    Hopefully you can get the cvt in base trim now.

    Flame on!

  • avatar

    The car looks and specs out exactly like what it is…a final capitulation to the fact that the EVO is gone. Subaru has slowly but surely inured WRX fans to a car that has no spiritual foil to spur real development, and therefore won’t be. You’re not getting more power, you’re not getting a hatch, you’re not getting a manual in top trim. I suppose Subaru could still pull a rabbit out of the hat with the STI, but this is dismal foreshadowing.

  • avatar

    It looks like Norm got a few minutes from being a Bolt battery fire apologist to pursue his favorite hobby: trashing Japanese brands by means of obfuscation and ad hominem.

    Good boy, Norm! Good dog.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The salespeople at the Subaru store will just smile. They’ll sell every one they get. Since TTAC’s readership skews towards Geritol and depends, dismissive comments about the WRX were not unexpected. However, this has be one of the top three cars to never, never, ever buy used.

  • avatar

    I see the hairy armpit-scratcher crowd is alive and semi-well, and as full of nonsense as usual. Here’s a few bananas for you.

    The genome for the original Covid variant was sequenced by the Chinese in Jan 2020 and given to the world. Got that one wrong, Buickman. Both Pfizer and Moderna needed that genome sequence to make their mRNA vaccines. The CDC produced live Covid samples to put in their test kits sent out to hospitals and lab test centers shortly afterwards, to act as a base standard for comparisons for PCR testing. Those kits have recently been withdrawn, because there are now quite a few commercial testers able to conduct tests on hundreds of samples at a time that are easily calibrated without manual individual work. So no need for the set of “standard” gauges. I suppose some people here have some basic idea of metrology standards like gauge blocks? Same idea with he original Covid standard kits. The dopes of the world deny all this and quack like demented ducks that the PCR test doesn’t work, because why keep up with information or the news? It’so damnably inconvenient and requires ctual work, compared to plucking willknots from their asses and broadcasting them far and wide, which is so much easier. And what better feeling is there than to sit in judgment like Swami EBFlex, swatting down the earnest people for having the temerity to care? It’s just so much fun to be a super-troll. Sociopaths love being that way — watch them chicken’s run, Martha! Haw, Haw.

    I also guess google search is too tough for a lot of these people to use. Plus it might turn up results that disagree with their own expert and highly edjumacated opinions. And we can’t have that, FFS, now can we? Wouldn’t be fun any more.

    Turns out that the three to four weeks between vaccine doses is not optimal for best Covid antibody production. 12 weeks is about the optimum is presently the rough estimation. I guess we got lucky in Canada because we couldn’t get supplies quickly enough to meet label directions and lucked into the best interval. Doing it right is the reason Israel is seeing waning vaccine effectiveness and going for a third shot. They vaccinated as per label, and hindsight antibody testing has shown the interval between doses should indeed have been longer. Pfizer did note way back 16 months ago that they expected protection to fade with time, and are no doubt rubbing their hands with glee that booster shots will be needed. #$$$$

    Oh, and the EUA was recently withdrawn because the FDA now has fully approved the mRNA vaccines. Bet Rupe the Murdoch’s ace crew of anchors at Faux News never bothered to tell their audience that. After this much BS blarney daily thrown their way for a year and a half, they wouldn’t believe it anyway, because their brains are fully washed.

    Just because you contracted the original version of Covid and survived and made antibodies, they are of no particular protection against Delta. The existing mRNA vaccines are better, but not great. That’s why there are breakthrough infections, though at least so far, severe cases are relatively limited. Too bad the Delta variant has about 1,000 times the viral reproduction of the original Covid, so even if vaccinated and you contract Delta yet feel just great and rarin’ to go, you can infect your unvaxxed kids with ease. Sneakly little mutant, is Delta. But worry not, the Mu variant is all set to REALLY infect us all shortly and you can suffer a real bad case of the nasties with that because the existing jabs don’t work against it. This is why the pharma boys are busy updating their formulas, which is relatively simple to do, or there wouldn’t have been the original vaccines to field trial in only a couple of months. So I wonder why it’s taking so long, myself. Perhaps to maximize profit? That’s where my skepticism lies in all this — long term pharma profits are nicer than producing a really first class vaccine product that works first time. where’s the profit in that? All business loves the renter model of steady income streams, and no automaker went bust making vehicles that were juat barely good enough. You have to have repeat buyers to keep that factory humming and fixed overheads paid for. Planned obsolescence in boutique vaccines? I hope not.

    As for all the gorphs, fake worriers about their holy rights and precious bodily fluids, ding-dongs, dingleberries, constitutional rights “experts”, conspiracy theorists, supposedly concerned blog post writers, trolls, Soviet-era hangers-on, scaredy cats re needles, Faux News anchors, DeSantis and Abbott and kenney of Alberta, etc etc ad nauseam plus the general detritus of know-nothings who feel compelled to write in and lecture normal people on how to behave, I say — get stuffed.

    What else? Oh yes, ivermectin. Well, the original study carried out by some Egyptian group of fakirs who said it was a miracle was proven to be a scam back in July. A British med student caught them out — all the research docs were busy running around trying to organize their own grants for further studies on the basis of the report, and nobody bothered to check the initial report’s fraudulent data. Until a med student did. And found it was all made up horse manure. Some folks just gotta see their name up in lights and be feted as heroes. That original “report” has been withdrawn.

    If you want to drink a gallon of ivermectin yourself, be my guest. You can at least be sure you haven’t got tapeworm any more afterwards. But the side effects you suffer may well mean you don’t give a sh!t.

    See, I really don’t want to get any variant of Covid personally, so I’ve invested a good amount of time keeping myself informed. Unlike so many here, still repeating tropes a, denials and outright foolishness, The level of discourse here on Covid is about at the fifth grade level, if that. Gossip in the schoolyard. No amount of proclaiming Covid is a scam, a hoax, a leftie attack on god-fearing conservatives, Chinese out to get ‘Murica, Putin’s Russkie comeback on exceptional genetically superior god-fearing Yankees, or other outlandish crap is going to bring back the dead or ameliorate the condition of Long Covid sufferers. So grow a damn pair and act like adults who can actually reason logically.

  • avatar

    While I’m not the biggest fan of the current Subaru design language, I do find the cladding to be ok. It at least matches the current Subaru brand image and the off-road rally image of the WRX.

    The 271 hp/258 lb-ft seems close enough to what we see in the Outback XT, so I do wonder if the new WRX will run on regular this time. It looks likely that we’ll get better mileage with the 2.4 too. Lower fuel cost will definitely be welcome.

    The biggest disappointment was that we aren’t getting the wagon variant. It was a long-shot, but I was kinda hoping they would add the 2.4 turbo and LHD to the Levorg.

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