Review: 2022 Subaru WRX is a 5th generation of turbocharged glee
Subaru has finally begun producing the fifth generation of its WRX sport sedan. One of the most popular and enthusiast-loved cars in Subaru’s lineup, the WRX divides opinion every time it sees changes ... and love it or hate it, this new-gen WRX is no different.
As with all generations of the WRX, the 2022 model features a turbocharged four-cylinder, horizontally-opposed (BOXER) engine and all-wheel drive by default. Tellingly, the six-speed manual transmission is the only option in production for the first several months of the WRX’s initial release, it being a fan favorite (and for good reason). We spent a week in a production model 2022 Subaru WRX Limited with the manual transmission.
At a Glance
- Well-crafted for its audience, but with some quirks
- Lots of fun to drive
- Low fuel economy, all things considered
Subaru reconfigured the chassis for the 2022 WRX from the ground up, adding stiffness and simplifying the tuning availability for the optional adaptive suspension, as well as to accommodate the slightly more powerful flat-four engine. The new platform is part of the Subaru Global Platform on which other Impreza-based cars like the Outback and Legacy ride.
The 271-horsepower (202 kW) 2.4-liter engine is a jump up from the 2.0-liter offered in the previous generation of the car. The available adaptive suspension is mostly about the addition of electronically-controlled dampers, which can be adjusted via drive mode settings in the driver’s information screen on the dashboard. Also noticeable to WRX fans will be the fast-response steering in the car, thanks to the dual-pinion setup the column uses with its electric-assisted rack.
From the outside, the 2022 Subaru WRX looks different from its predecessor. Body lines are smoother, edges are simpler, and the overall silhouette is softer. The deck (trunk) is more pronounced, the rear roofline less arched, and the hood scoop is closer to the windscreen. This gives the WRX a lower, faster dynamic, but removes some of its edge as a result. It’s definitely a look that will make some fans unhappy. So will the news that the super-WRX, the STI, will not be made this year. In fact it may be a long time coming, and may not be the heavy hitting WRX model traditionalists want. Subaru seems to be saying that the STI, when it comes, will be electrified as a hybrid or all-electric model instead. The Rallycross favorite is going to change in a big way and that won’t sit well with a lot of fans. We’ll reserve judgment until we see it.
Our take on the 2022 WRX, however, is that the new body design is actually a step forward. It may not please everybody, but it’s definitely a good-looking little sports sedan. We still pine for the hatchback/wagon days of the WRX, but this new one isn’t a disappointment.
Driving the new-generation WRX is what really sells us, though. It’s extremely well crafted for its audience. Shift throws are smooth and short, the clutch is positive without requiring a Swarzenegger left leg, steering response is smooth and informative, throttle response is thrilling ... It’s everything the WRX has always been. But better.
The engine output for the 2022 model is surprisingly quick. The turbocharger does its thing with punch and the acceleration is fast enough that quick hands and feet are required to keep it going. Slack just once and you’ll bump the redline and lose your momentum. The ride is still hard to the floor, giving input from all four wheels, the steering column, pedals, and in a sound symphony that keeps eyes happily glinting forward.
All of that, of course, comes at an MPG price, although the 2022 Subaru WRX has relatively low fuel economy, at just 26 mpg (9.05 l/100km) on the highway (per the EPA). Our highway loop, while relatively sedate, still only returned 25.4 mpg (9.3 l/100km). Of course, the amount of self control required to not hoonigan one’s way onto the highway from a surface road is not in everyone's tool set – especially those likely to buy a car like the WRX. Suffice to say your mileage will definitely vary.
Yet there are signs of refinement in this new WRX as well. The ride quality once the cruise control is set is much better than any previous generation of the car we’ve ever driven. Interior fitment is also more upscale by comparison, though not anywhere near the premium realms of luxury, of course. Subaru’s new infotainment is front-center on the center stack, with its love it or hate it 11.6 inches of tablet-like screen. Most impressive to us, though, was the improved gauge cluster, which is easy to read and sports some pretty useful driver information screens. The high-vis tachometer and fast-read digital speedometer are great.
There are a lot of added standard features to the new WRX as well, such as back seat monitoring, automated headlamps, and some collision mitigation systems. Subaru’s full EyeSight system, however, is only available on the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which Subaru calls its Performance Transmission (SPT). We think having to give up adaptive cruise control and more advanced safety systems because of a wont to shift gears by hand is short-sighted on Subaru’s part.
All in all, the 2022 Subaru WRX is a well-executed redesign of the beloved sports car. Could some of it be better? Sure, but that’s also been a hallmark of the WRX since the get-go. It’s never perfect. It’s just good enough to be worthy of your inevitable mods.
The 2022 WRX starts at US$29,105.
Product Page: 2022 Subaru WRX