The 2022 Subaru WRX Is All Evolved With Places To Go

Here car and driverWe take our title very seriously. We rarely, if ever, reluctantly relinquish control of the wheel. But if we must, we’re glad it’s someone like Scott Speed. A three-time Global Rallycross winner, Speed ​​has raced in practically every series, including Formula 1, NASCAR, and Formula E. Speed ​​was signed with Subaru Rally Team USA in 2019, which makes it the ideal hot shoe to introduce us to the new 2022. WRX.

Our shotgun rides take place at The Thermal Club’s aptly named Desert Circuit in Southern California, with temperatures hovering around 110 degrees. First up is a manual version in a searing solar orange hue. The pace eases off the clutch and we head out of the hot potholes and onto the 1.7-mile course. “We’ll do two laps,” he says. “One to warm up and the other to speed up.” Except he doesn’t do anything like that. Speed ​​survives the warm-up, opting to bury the throttle instead. Which is fine – on this short circuit, two laps will be over quickly anyway. You can also make good use of them as well. Charging towards the first corner, Speed ​​trades first gear for second. Subaru says this worked to make the engine more responsive to improve shifting performance, and the revs actually drop, rather than hang, during the throttle-off, clutch-in sequence.

As we exit that turn, the pace picks up and WRX moves on. On paper, the performance specs aren’t much different than they were before: The new 2.4-liter turbo flat-four makes just three more horsepower than the old 2.0-liter, peaking at the same 5600 rpm. The torque peak of 258 pound-feet is unchanged. Yet there’s no denying the feeling of greater thrust as we head straight down.

New from the start, the WRX now runs on Subaru’s Global Platform, which is the basis for practically everything in the company’s lineup. It’s clear when you step inside that the WRX feels a lot more premium than before. The 11.6-inch touchscreen is the focal point of the upgraded cabin and evokes memories of the previous generation Econocar’s bones. The seats could still use more lateral thigh support during track use, but for daily driving they would be quite helpful.

At the end of two laps, the speed pits so we can switch to the top-trim GT. This model has three-phase adaptive dampers and only comes with – wait for it – a continuously variable transmission.

You generally don’t expect a CVT to be able to overcome shifts, but this one does. An eight-speed manual mode is accessible via paddle shifters and does a surprisingly good job of simulating real gears. Just before the redline, the speed tug on the right pedal and the CVT responds quickly with a decisive thump, accompanied by a punchy blat from the exhaust. The WRX continues to pull down the straight, generating enough momentum to swing the tack needle back to six grand once again. The engine bucks against the limit as the transmission firms up until speed commands another upshift. As we apply the brakes to turn and speed downshift, the revs also blip to match the lower gear. Overall, it’s a solid performance by this transmission with a chainring between the two pulleys.

Speed ​​drives most of the lap with the GT’s dampers in its harshest sport setting. Near the last corner, he activates the Drive Mode page on the touchscreen. “You’ll see a huge difference between leisure and sport,” he says, choosing the former. In fact, the WRX displays a noticeable body roll when we circle the top. For now, the adaptive dampers are exclusive to the GT model; Subaru isn’t saying whether it will eventually find its way to manual-equipped versions.

On the next lap, Speed ​​lets the transmission make decisions while it concentrates on its line. This time, he is more aggressive about his corner entry, using the touch of the braking left foot to point the nose in the right direction. Nearing the final left-right-left sequence, Speed ​​makes the wheel heavy to remove the rear end.

Stealing a glance at the driver’s seat, we realize that Speed ​​would love nothing more than to perform this action on a thick bed of gravel, a muddy path or a path full of snow. And who can blame him? He and WRX are both rally champions, finding success beyond the bounds of adhesion.

And more than ever, the WRX looks the part. The styling is unexpectedly weird with its raised fenders and chunky angles. Despite being shaped similarly to that a child would use safety shears, the plastic-clad wheel arches are purposeful and perfect, designed to fend off the onslaught of projectile limestone. We think this is a design that the messier it gets, the better it will look.

While our encounter was ridiculously short, our time behind the wheel of the WRX will soon come. We can only hope that our extended drive lifts us off the asphalt and puts us on edge. We know speed will approve.

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