Subaru WRX Wagon Returns Elsewhere With CVT

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Subaru hasn’t sold the WRX as a wagon since 2015. While fans have been clamoring for its return ever since, the automaker’s willingness to play along hasn’t gotten much further than its Viziv concept vehicles.

But that doesn’t mean other markets have to do without. The manufacturer is currently prepping the 2022 WRX Sportwagon for the Australian market. Though it’s difficult to be broken up about it being trapped in the land down under, considering it’s going to be offered exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

While we already knew the second-generation Subaru Levorg would be having its standard 1.8-liter turbo yanked out for the 2.4-liter FA24F to become the WRX Sportwagon (in Australia) and WRX GT (in New Zealand). Many fans were hoping prior claims that it would be CVT only were just rumors. But Subaru has confirmed the model is being prepped for the relevant markets without a manual option.

As a positive, the model lacks the controversial black plastic that surrounds the North American model’s wheel wells. The Levorg-based WRX uses the same motor as our sedan (271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque) and offers a more cohesive exterior design. However, it also gets the “Subaru Performance Transmission” (CVT) designed to mimic a DTC with no substitutions.

Subaru is understandably trying to keep pace with its consumer base around the globe and said that maturing the WRX along with the fandom was important. While the goal has always been to deliver a daily driver that can double as an all-weather performance vehicle, the manufacturer has said it believes the current generation bridges that gap best thanks to years of experience. Despite this resulting in a fatter, homelier car with a predictably massive screen taking up valuable cabin space, everyone still really seems to enjoy driving it.

The WRX was always a playfully ugly design, and the polarizing looks typically stopped mattering once you got behind the steering wheel. But the new one elevates the vehicle’s practical tendencies even further by making it more like the rest of the Subaru lineup. So then why in the hell would the company not be pushing the wagon?

I understand that the model has a limited development budget. But the way in which those funds are utilized might leave you scratching your head. For example, the vast majority of WRX drivers (around 80 percent, according to Subaru) option their cars with a manual transmission. However, Subaru spent a fortune improving the continuously variable transmission (CVT) nobody liked on the previous generation, leaving less cash for any hypothetical hatchbacks.

This was undoubtedly done in an effort to draw in more drivers who don’t know how to work a clutch. But something tells me the money would have been better spent bringing back the wagon. Enthusiasts rarely look favorably on CVTs (even good ones) and the brunt of the WRX’s competition are imported liftbacks often sold with automatic transmissions. If it wants to steal their customers, it needs more than a car you don’t have to shift yourself.

Then again, I’m not on Subaru’s marketing team and the automaker has been teasing Levorg performance wagons for several years. We figured they’d get roped into the WRX lineup eventually, though I cannot pretend that has made the automaker’s plan for the nameplate any easier to comprehend. With the overwhelming majority of its sales taking place inside of North America, it seems like Subaru would do everything to maintain volume there — including bringing back the WRX wagon with a manual transmission.

At any rate, the Aussies should start seeing deliveries of their Sportwagon this spring.

[Images: Subaru]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Jan 27, 2022

    Last chance to get a manual. Better buy up, folks. Next gen will be a hybrid with CVT, and then you get a 1-speed transmission from then on. Adios, fun.

  • Varezhka Varezhka on Jan 28, 2022

    Nothing surprising here. Levorg was a car specifically for the Japanese domestic market (2nd biggest market for Subaru) as a replacement for Legacy wagon. 5th gen. Legacy was targeted for US market, and since it became too big for the home market, they basically split the line. Sedan friendly US market gets the Legacy and WRX. In Japan where wagon is more popular, they get Levorg (hence RHD and CVT only, given Subaru's resouce). It's CVT only because (A) the 80% manual take rate for WRX is a US specific situation and not so back home and (B) the Japanese law now requires auto emergency braking for all new cars, and Subaru EyeSight isn't stick compatible. Last gen. WRX was also a CVT only affair in Japan, and you needed to step up to STI to get a stick. Now, we're not sure Subaru will even be able to sell WRX STI back home.

    • See 2 previous
    • Varezhka Varezhka on Jan 29, 2022

      sgeffe, It is a camera based system, so as you have guessed may be less effective depending on the lighting condition. They are still known to be one of the better systems out there though. There's also a second generation EyeSight available for the Levorg and home market Outback that includes LiDAR and mmWave radar on top of an improved camera system. Not sure when that's coming this side of the shore.

  • 28-Cars-Later I guess Santa showed up with bales of cash for Mitsu this past Christmas.
  • Lou_BC I was looking at an extended warranty for my truck. The F&I guy was trying to sell me on the idea by telling me how his wife's Cadillac had 2 infotainment failures costing $4,600 dollars each and how it was very common in all of their products. These idiots can't build a reliable vehicle and they want me to trust them with the vehicle "taking over" for me.
  • Sobhuza Trooper Like fusion power, the I.D. Buzz is only 30 years away.
  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
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