Subaru WRX 2022 first drive review: lost its edge

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The Subaru WRX 2022 is a beautiful performance car. Completely rebuilt from the ground up for this year, it has a tighter chassis, more precise steering, and a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine that delivers more growl. It looks even nicer once you get a glimpse of the whole package in person. But in a segment that has improved exponentially over the past few years, getting behind the wheel of the new WRX didn’t feel so special this time around.

I spent the day driving the WRX on a stunning stretch of road that meandered through redwood forests and along the coast near Healdsburg, Calif. – and something was immediately missing. Of course, the new WRX still drives fairly well, but the glory days of the “rally car for the road” are over, and so is that unique advantage that made the WRX so special in the first place.

While Motor1.com strives to evaluate every vehicle we test, Subaru has not released a pricing for the WRX 2022. We will attach a rating once this information becomes available. To learn more about how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.

Quick statistics Subaru WRX Premium 2022
Motor 2.4 liter H4 turbocharged
To go out 271 hp / 258 lb-ft
Transmission 6 speed manual
Base price $ 31,000

Chunky, Chunky, Chunky

My first close look at the WRX suggested that this “new” model was just a makeover of the car it replaced. And yet the 2022 model does not share any sheet metal with the previous version and rolls on a whole new platform. The company’s versatile overall architecture sits underneath, making the WRX 3.0-inch longer and 1.0-inch wider than the older version.

Side by side, the new WRX definitely looks sharper than the old car – if only a little. Aggressive C-shaped headlights and a hexagonal grille line the front, with the sharper rear sporting what Subaru calls “Magma” taillights and a subtle lip spoiler. And there’s a ton of coating… like, a lot.

2022 Subaru WRX first exterior test
2022_Subaru_WRX_074
2022 Subaru WRX first exterior test

Those big fenders ultimately protect the WRX from rocks and debris if you decide to take it on the dirt, but the hexagonal texture of the golf ball-shaped plastic improves aerodynamics as well. The designers at Subaru saw how the ridges of a golf ball affect air travel and applied the same thinking here; oncoming air moves more easily over the bumpy surface than it would in perfectly flat plastic. Even the front underbody uses the same golf ball-like texture to keep airflow under the body seamless.

And when you pair this coating with a vivid shade, like the new Solar Orange Pearl or Ignition Red paint, the contrast is stark yet interesting. More subtle hues, like black and gray, hide all that plastic better. But it’s a Subaru, so why not embrace the funkness?

2022 Subaru WRX interior first test

The cabin is less polarizing, which is essentially a copy-paste job of the Legacy, Outback, and Forester. Up front and center of our Premium Tester is the same 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen found in other Subaru products, with a few touch buttons for things like air conditioning and volume controls. surrounding him. The basic audio setup is less impressive. And there is plenty of black leather; still not interesting to watch or use.

The seats are available in three different fabrics: base fabric, premium fabric (tested here) and Ultrasuede on the GT model, with an updated seat design that makes them more snug than the buckets they replace. And they are indeed more comfortable, even if the rest of the car is not. Tire noise is common, so is wind noise, and on uneven surfaces the suspension can be extremely hard.

2022 Subaru WRX interior first test
2022 Subaru WRX interior first test

Couple, please

Subaru replaced last year’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with a more robust 2.4-liter engine borrowed from the Legacy XT, Outback XT and Ascent. That’s good enough for most of Subaru’s small crossovers, but here it only adds three horsepower over the previous model, and no additional pound-feet of torque.

With 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet, the new WRX is barely faster than its predecessor. It also does not solve the main problem of the previous generation: the lack of torque at low revs. This car still has too much turbo lag and minimal oomph below 2,500 rpm, which means you have to bury your foot deep in the throttle to get this car off the line with any goal. You won’t have the same problem in something like a Hyundai Elantra N.

With 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet, the new WRX is barely faster than its predecessor.

My butt dyno says so and the spec sheet tells me this model will hit 60 faster than last year, although Subaru hasn’t released that number. The WRX Premium model tested here loses 31 pounds compared to the previous version (3,351 vs. 3,320) and offers faster response.

And overall, the power strip improves, providing a more linear experience and eliminating much of the bad revs you might have experienced in the previous car. The throttle response is also significantly better; no more soft, vague response when you step on the accelerator. And while this car lacks torque at low revs, once you get past the 2,500rpm threshold there is a strong surge of power that pulls it up to 5,500rpm and keeps the car going. at speed with ease.

2022 Subaru WRX first exterior test
2022 Subaru WRX first exterior test

The standard six-speed manual transmission is a reliable transmission with a perfect clutch point and moderately short gear changes. Even if it lacks the short strokes of something like a Honda Civic Si, the majority of WRX buyers will still prefer this gearbox over the optional CVT. Subaru promises that the new “performance” CVT is much improved over the one it replaces, but I won’t have this chance to test this theory until next year.

While horsepower and torque aren’t vastly improved, the WRX is noticeably better in the corners. A 14% increase in lateral stiffness and a 28% increase in torsional stiffness over the previous model make the WRX tighter, flatter and more focused. The suspension is stiff – too stiff at times for the extremely bumpy pavement of NorCal forests – but responds evenly, with the continuous all-wheel drive system providing unbreakable grip on wet and icy forest roads.

Adjustments to the steering rack result in an 11% increase in speed, which means I’m able to turn the WRX around corners at an impressive speed. Subaru ditched the old single-gear steering setup and assist motor for a more advanced dual-gear pairing here, which in turn reduces friction. But in the process, it also reduces the sensation; the steering is too light and vague, and it paints an unclear picture of what the tires and suspension are doing on top of those twisty forest roads.

I will temper my objections by saying that this road was sometimes so technical that I felt that neither I nor the car was properly equipped for it. And on the less aggressive laces, the WRX felt slightly more engaging. But deep inside I knew that same stretch of sidewalk would be even closer to nirvana driving an Elantra N.

One step forward, two steps back

Another major downside to the WRX is that Subaru limits adaptive suspension and optional drive modes to the CVT model, which means you’re stuck with the aforementioned over-boosted steering and stiff suspension if you want the manual. It also means no active safety gear, like Subaru EyeSight, and no options for the sportier Recaro seats either. The WRX’s packaging is completely messed up.

Subaru has yet to announce pricing for the new WRX, but expect a starting price of less than $ 30,000 for the base manual model, with the “performance” CVT asking for just a little more. That still makes it a solid price option in this segment, but it’s hard to recommend this car when alternatives like the Honda Civic Si offer more engagement, and the Hyundai Elantra N offers more horsepower for roughly. the same price.

2022 Subaru WRX first exterior test

The WRX is still an admirable performer, and certainly more stylish than the car it replaces. It assumes that you can look past all that coating. But there are things that prevent it from being an instant recommendation. The packaging is odd, the interior is bland, and low-end torque still doesn’t measure up to the competition. Plus, he just doesn’t have that intangible cool factor that he once had. In a market where four-cylinder performance cars have evolved impressively in just a few short years, the new WRX already looks like it’s lagging behind.


How much will the 2022 Subaru WRX cost?

Subaru has yet to announce pricing details for the new 2022 WRX, but the previous model started at $ 28,490 for the 2021 model year (with the destination fee of $ 995 included). Expect the base model to see a slight uptick this year, with the optional CVT asking for a bit more.


Does the Subaru WRX 2022 have a manual transmission?

Yes, the Subaru WRX 2022 has a six-speed manual transmission, but also offers an optional “Performance” continuously variable transmission. The six-speed manual will go on sale first, the Performance CVT will hit dealerships soon after.


How powerful is a WRX 2022?

The Subaru WRX 2022 gains three horsepower over the previous model, with a total output of 271 horsepower. Torque remains the same as the previous generation, remaining at 258 lb-ft.


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