The Subaru WRX, redesigned for 2022, is a high-performance sedan with a legacy of championship rally cars. With a powerful turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, it’s a huge amount of fun. It does most everything well: it’s fast, and it grips corners in both wet and dry, with a ride that’s firm but not stiff.
Its new styling for 2022 makes it a bit longer, lower and wider. The rest of the exterior changes are details keeping with its personality: muscle.
The 2022 changes don’t stop at the styling; there’s a stiffer chassis, and the 4-cylinder engine grows to 2.4 liters, now making 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a new CVT whose simulated shifts are sharper, according to Subaru, with fixed gear ratios that are lower, to make the acceleration more responsive. The WRX can come with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
There are more standard features, namely in safety and convenience. Last but not least, there’s a new model, the GT, with standard adaptive dampers, a Subaru first. The GT also has Recaro seats with deep bolstering, and sharp-looking gray wheels in a matte finish. The GT only comes with the CVT, no 6-speed.
With the 6-speed, the WRX is EPA rated at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined. The CVT is 1 mpg down from that, at 19/25/21 mpg.
The new WRX hasn’t been safety-tested yet. With the CVT come automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. There’s also optional emergency steering, intended to prevent crashes at speeds less than 50 mph.
Made in Japan, the WRX comes as base, Premium, Limited, and GT.
Prices start at under $30,000 for the base model, which comes with cloth seats with manual adjustment, a 7.7-inch touchscreen, 4.2-inch digital display, LED headlights with automatic high beams, and 17-inch alloy wheels on summer performance tires.
The Premium adds an 11.6-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, aluminum pedal covers, LED fog lights, rear spoiler, and 18-inch alloy wheels on summer performance tires.
The GT comes standard with the CVT, adding Recaro seats in synthetic suede and 10-way power adjustment, an 11-speaker 504-watt Harman Kardon sound system, a sunroof, adaptive dampers, and driving modes.
The racy WRX compact is based on a prosaic sedan, the Impreza, but has its own look. The 2022 restyling brings more athleticism and expression. It’s clear by the new stance that the WRX means business.
There’s more definition to the fenders, with black cladding on the fender flares, a wider hexagon grille, a hood scoop that’s hard to miss, and a bigger rear diffuser with more angles. It might not be apparent that it’s bigger than the previous WRX, but it is: 2.9 inches longer on a wheelbase increased by 0.9 inches, and 1.2 inches wider.
The cabin is sporty, with well-bolstered bucket seats that come in standard cloth, or leather and synthetic suede with contrast stitching. There’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel having a small diameter, and aluminum pedals.
The base WRX has a 7.7-inch touchscreen, but other models have an 11.6-inch screen in a portrait format.
The rear seat leg room increased by about one inch, thanks to the new wheelbase with the same increase. It technically seats three but, as with all compact sedans, don’t count on them all being comfortable; two adults are okay, however.
The trunk is only 12.5 cubic feet, but it opens up to the passenger compartment when the 60/40-split rear seat is folded.
The WRX can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about five seconds, which isn’t as quick as some small sedans with huge horsepower, but it’s fast enough to be quite exciting.
The new turbo flat-4 has 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Because its torque curve is broader, and therefore more useful, the WRX is easier and more fun to drive.
Every WRX–every Subaru–is all-wheel drive. The standard 6-speed gearbox uses a viscous coupling that evenly divides the traction between the front and rear wheels, while the CVT takes a center differential with electro-hydraulic clutch to divide the power with 45 percent to the front and 55 percent to the rear.
The 6-speed’s clutch engagement is smooth, and its throws are short and tight. It makes working within the powerband really fun, especially downshifting to pass. There’s a small turbo lag from low rpm, but no big deal. After that, the engine feels bigger than its 2.4 liters.
The steering is sharp and responsive, thanks in large part to the new chassis. The boxer engine design, also called a flat-4, has a lower center of gravity than an inline-4, and that keeps the cornering flatter. The suspension is MacPherson struts in front and double wishbones at the rear, with summer performance tires.
The agile WRX handles with more sophistication than before. The body leans a bit under hard cornering, but it tracks true. The suspension tuning is firm but not rigid. Still, the WRX is not quite fully ready for track days. The brakes are more than strong enough for the street, but on the track they’ll be in over their head, same with virtually any car. But the WRX has that covered, with optional Brembos.
The 2022 Subaru WRX has a winning formula, with just enough of a performance edge to appeal to enthusiasts and their everyday driving needs. Take the CVT for its superior safety gear–unless it’s a weekend toy, in which case the 6-speed manual makes for a terrific driving companion.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection