Subaru is known in America for two things: SUVs with a flair for adventure, and the WRX. SUV fans love their SUVs, and WRX fans sure as hell like their vape peer, WRX. With the 2022 WRX, which is actually brand new for the first time in a very long time, the company has tried to design a vehicle that appeals to both camps.
Anyway, all the black cladding, hexagonal wheel arch surrounds and crosstrek-aping orange paint is telling me. But it would be an injustice to reduce the new WRX to its appearance, as there is a lot to discuss under the hood.
First, there’s the new engine: a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four that produces 271 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It comes with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic which is actually a CVT, though Subaru would prefer not to call it that. In fact, the company has a new name for this CVT, dubbing it Subaru Performance Transmission (no, really). It has paddle shifters, and company claim Changes between simulated second and third gear are faster than ever.
But enough about that transmission you probably don’t want. The other major upgrade of the new WRX relates to its chassis, which has switched to the Subaru Global platform and, in doing so, has become much tougher. According to the manufacturer’s data, torsion stiffness has been increased by 28 percent, while suspension mounting point stiffness has increased by 75 percent. Like the new BRZ, the rear stabilizer bar now connects directly to the body, not the subframe. Everything is tighter, snappier, more instantaneous – you know the deal.
This extends to the new dual-pinion electric power steering system, where Subaru says the driver’s input shaft is separated from the motor assist shaft for quicker and more precise changes in direction.
The WRX is never known for its interior, and people don’t buy it because it’s nice to sit in. Still, the sport sedan’s cabin is in need of some crumbling for a while now, and the 2022 model brings it with a large vertical touchscreen front and center as well as a dash design that will definitely be at home this decade. Looks more. Interestingly, the instrument cluster is still primarily analog, which is strange because new BRZ Everything is digital.
And that brings us back to the exterior of the WRX, which isn’t doing it for me. The front is quite good, but heavy cladding with arches and arches, heavy haunches dominating the rear fenders, and a comfortably overdesigned back end. Like, why is the back so strangely pricked and tight? It seems to be stressful. Relax brother – here, hit my pen.
These are all signs of external crossovers—especially Subaru’s exterior crossovers—and I can’t help but wonder whether the strategy here is to pass off the WRX as a crossover to play in that piping hot segment. My colleague Rory replied to a picture in our Slack with a picture of the WRX Legacy Outback SUS — which stood for Sports Utility Sedan (has nothing to do with among us) – and now I cannot see the spiritual similarity.
Subaru has yet to reveal pricing for the new WRX, but is expected to hit showrooms in the early part of 2022. This time around there will also be a new GT trim on top of the typical premium and limited package, which adds electronic dampers, customizable drive mode settings and exclusive Recaro seats.