2022 Subaru WRX has more weight on its shoulders after the departure of the STI.
For enthusiasts, it is getting harder to find the right affordable sports sedan in a world where everything gets electrified, or less affordable. Subaru WRX is one of the sporty sedans that offer everyday drivability, and a fun driving experience with an affordable price tag. The existence of the WRX is more important than ever, as it’s the only sports sedan left in the brand’s model lineup after so many years.
If you are a car enthusiast, you already know that hot hatches and sedans have been slowly disappearing. We lost the Mitsubishi Evo a few years ago, and then the Ford Focus RS, and the others will eventually be all-electric. With the departure of STI, which is one of the most well-known sporty sedans with World Rally Championship and Motorsports heritage, the expectations are higher for the 2022 Subaru WRX.
Starting with the looks, which is a quite controversial design. Some people love it, some hate it, but it’s obviously leaning towards crossover-like looks with all unpainted body cladding. I have seen some pictures of the 2022 Subaru WRX with painted cladding and I personally think it looks so much better.
I still like the front-end design though, it looks very modern but still has traditional design features of a WRX that we used to see for so many years, mainly the hood scoop. 2022 WRX does not have an excessive amount of unpainted plastic surfaces, and the new headlight design gives it a sharper look.
The side profile and the rear design are where things get weird because of the cladding. The fender flares have weird shapes and they have a thick profile, so Subaru wasn’t trying to hide them by any means. The body lines, especially in the rear quarter panel, look more like a widebody and gives the WRX a sporty character. Compared to the previous generation, there is a 0.9-inch wheelbase stretch, which contributes to the overall cargo space and rear-seat legroom.
The rear design is a hate or love relationship. There is a huge unpainted plastic trim in the rear bumper to make it look more like a rugged crossover, but it also comes with real quad-exhaust tips for more sporty looks. The taillight design is also completely different than the previous generation, and there is a subtle spoiler placed on the trunk lid. Overall, the rear end has its unique design language, but I don’t find it aesthetically pleasing to look at, but to each its own.
The interior design is just like any modern Subaru, with a much bigger infotainment system that we used to see in Outback. You will find Subaru’s traditional utilitarian interior design, big cupholders, big cubbies, a lot of usable space, a typical Subaru button layout, a giant infotainment system, a steering wheel, and an analog cluster. So if you are coming from another Subaru product, you will feel right at home.
On the other side, you expect more pizzazz in the interior from a sports sedan. The giant 11.6″ infotainment screen is definitely an eye-catcher and that’s where you look all the time, but it’s missing the details that makes the interior more exciting to look at. That being said, I think the overall build quality and material choice are right where they should be for this price range, there is a nice mix of soft-touch plastics, leather, and a minimal amount of hard plastics used in the right places.
The front seats are where you start feeling this is a sports sedan. It does not have an integrated headrest like some hot hatches, but they provide a decent amount of side bolstering and good adjustability. The seats are firm but comfortable. The rear seats also are comfortable for long trips, but more importantly, it is a usable space even for large adults. It’s not class-leading when it comes to rear legroom mainly due to having AWD and driveshaft. The rear seats also have a heating function and USB ports.
2022 Subaru WRX comes with an average trunk space, which is around 12.5 cubic feet or 353L. However, it’s pretty good when it comes to overall usability, as the trunk opening is wide and it’s easy to lift up the trunk lid. Unlike some hot hatches, your options are limited when you have a sports sedan, as you get minimal vertical space. However, the 60/40 split-folding rear seat easily flips forward which allows you to carry tall items.
We have to talk about the engine because it’s what makes the sports sedan, a sports sedan. As opposed to the STI, the 2022 Subaru WRX comes with the new generation FA series engine. New to 2022, the WRX got a displacement bump, so it is no longer a turbocharged 2.0L engine. The new one is 2.4L, though it is still the same engine family, the displacement bump usually means more power.
The new 2.4L horizontally opposed turbocharged engine puts out around 271 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Although the power difference is minimal, the new engine has a pretty flat torque curve, which offers the maximum torque from 2000 to 4800 RPM. The only gripe was the turbo lag, as I found it a little bit more than other entries in this segment.
As expected from a real sports sedan, the 2022 Subaru WRX comes with a 6-speed manual transmission. The gear ratios are quite short to make the car feel more alive and I think it’s the right fit for a sports sedan. However, if you are planning to drive the WRX mostly on highways, that means you will be constantly at higher RPMs and it might hurt your fuel economy numbers. I was averaging about 10.0L / 100km, but your mileage may vary.
2022 Subaru WRX comes with the Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system like all Subarus. The AWD system is able to split the power 50/50 front to rear, thanks to the viscous center differential. Unlike the outgoing STI, there is no limited-slip differential, so there is no way to physically lock and split the torque without the DCCD system. The grip level is still very high, but when you are at the limit, the WRX tends to understeer a lot.
On the bright side, things get a lot better on a loose surface, especially on gravel, you start to feel the rear end gets more playful. It still understeers initially, but you can get the rear end sideways with more throttle input. The biggest gripe was being unable to fully disable the stability control for a car with rally and motorsports heritage. It allows you to partially disable and have fun a little bit and that’s also how you activate the “Track” mode.
The “Track” mode can’t change the fact that WRX does not belong to the race track, but it’s a great car to take to your favourite backroad, in any type of weather. The firm suspension tuning gives a lot of confidence with minimal body roll around the corner. I found the suspension and tire noise a little bit higher than the competition, mainly because of the hard compound Dunlop summer tires.
The brakes are good or not-so-good, depending on where you are taking your WRX. 12.4-inch front rotors matched with 2-piston callipers offer a great initial bite and feedback. They are totally adequate for any type of driving on a public road. However, the rotors aren’t big for a performance-oriented sedan, so I would imagine it might start to fade on you a little bit under track abuse.
No matter how controversial the new WRX’s exterior design is, it didn’t lose anything from its traditional character. It is still an enthusiast’s choice as an affordable, tuner-friendly sports sedan. The new generation offers more tech, updated looks, and more refinement which makes the WRX a more sophisticated choice.
Like the BRZ we reviewed earlier this month, what makes the 2022 Subaru WRX very appealing to car enthusiasts is the base price. It starts at $30,995 – it is one of the best value propositions considering the closest competitors are front-wheel drive with higher MSRP. If you want all fancy bells and whistles, the top-of-the-line “Sport-Tech” trim is priced at $39,295 with the manual transmission. For more details – please visit www.subaru.ca
|Engine||2387cc flat-four turbocharged|
|Transmission & Drivetrain||6-Speed manual & All-wheel-drive|
|Max power||271 hp @ 5600 rpm|
|Max torque||258 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm|
|0-100 km/h||6.0 sec|
|Curb Weight||3434 lbs – 1558 kg|
|Top Speed||147 mph – 236 km/h|
|Fuel Economy (Combined)||22 MPG – 10.7 L/100 km|