2022 Subaru WRX Sedan First Look Review: Rally-Bred Legend Grows Up

First Look / 14 Comments

New WRX is more refined and sophisticated than before.

The new Subaru WRX sedan is a big deal. This is very likely the last WRX of its kind before hybridization enters the equation. But those are concerns for another day because the 2022 WRX is a mix of very familiar ingredients. It has a more powerful Boxer engine, Subaru's renowned all-wheel-drive system, and the continued availability of a six-speed manual gearbox. It promises more refinement, too, being built upon the Subaru Global Platform that promises improved dynamics and a quieter ride. Can the fifth generation of this rally-bred legend live up to the hype? Initial impressions are that it very much does.

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Exterior: Levorg-Inspired Style

We like what Subaru has done with the redesign of the WRX. Aspects like the signature hexagonal grille and the LED headlights have a lot in common with the Levorg, a performance wagon that isn't sold in the US. Being a WRX, it comes with sporty add-ons like a low-profile rear spoiler and a front hood scoop. The front fenders are made of aluminum which Subaru says saves five pounds. The car's rally roots are reflected in details like the rugged black cladding around the wheel arches.

At the back, there are quad-exit tailpipes and an aggressive rear bumper. Various aerodynamic features such as an air outlet at each side of the rear bumper help to lower body sway. The top GT trim comes with 18-inch alloys in a matte gray finish. It's clearly a sports sedan, easily identifiable as a WRX, and yet much more modern than the outgoing model. Good job, Subaru.

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Performance: Much-Improved Chassis But Similar Power

The new WRX comes with a 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine that makes 271 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 5,200 rpm. That's a modest 3-hp increase over the outgoing model and peak torque is exactly the same, but Subaru promises a broader torque curve, better responsiveness, and improved acceleration. Perhaps Subaru doesn't want to encroach too much on the next WRX STI by keeping outputs at a similar level.

A six-speed manual gearbox and an automatic gearbox called the Subaru Performance Transmission (SPT) are offered. SPT is said to offer 30 percent quicker upshifts and 50% faster downshifts. It can also execute rev-matching downshifts when braking and offers a manual mode that can be used via the paddle shifters.

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The underpinnings have been improved dramatically with the adoption of the Subaru Global Platform. Torsional rigidity is up by 28% and suspension mounting point rigidity is enhanced by 75%. Subaru says the new dual-pinion electric power steering is more accurate and possesses a more natural steering feel, which isn't always a given with electric systems. Of course, the Subaru Symmetrical AWD system is standard and boasts Active Torque Vectoring. The new WRX is expected to remain one of the more engaging sports sedans around.

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Interior: A Big Leap Forward

The cabin of the new WRX is significantly more modern than the rather basic affair that was the previous model's. The new interior is dominated by an 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen that forms the basis of Subaru's Starlink Multimedia Plus system. For the first time in a Subaru, the touchscreen offers a more useful split-screen display.

The primarily dark interior features carbon-fiber accents and red stitching, along with a flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.

An 11-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is available and the new top-spec GT comes with Recaro front seats, an eight-way power driver's seat, and Ultrasuede upholstery. Automatic models get the best selection of driver-assist technologies like lane departure prevention and advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering.

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Pricing and Verdict

Subaru has yet to reveal pricing for the 2022 WRX sedan. For reference, the 2021 WRX begins at $27,495, so we hope Subaru has been able to keep the base price below the $30,000 mark. We'll know more about pricing closer to the car's arrival at dealerships early next year.

As before, there's nothing quite like the Subaru WRX out there, at least not in sedan form. Something like the Honda Civic Type R offers a similarly raw driving experience but that's a hatchback, and Subaru's own BRZ coupe is less practical but also great to drive. That leaves the WRX as a unique proposition at its price point and well worth consideration if you want a fun sedan but need space for the family.

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