Here it is, the all-new 2022 Subaru WRX. Making its debut in its United States today, the fifth generation of the rally icon (second if you count from the WRX without “Impreza” attached to its name) gets an extensive redesign, a new platform, a more powerful powertrain, and most importantly, retains the option of a six-speed manual transmission (#savethemanuals).
Now built on the Subaru Global Platform as with other models like the XV, Impreza, Levorg, Forester and Ascent, the new WRX benefits a 28% increase in overall torsional rigidity, while suspension mounting point rigidity is up 75%.
Subaru adds that there’s a longer suspension stroke for improved vehicle stability and lateral grip on uneven surfaces, while the rear stabiliser bar is now mounted directly to the body instead of the subframe, allowing it to operate more efficiently while contributing to a roll rate reduction when cornering.
Other chassis revisions include an optimised front suspension geometry to reduce mass offset of the front suspension, while a new dual-pinion electric power steering system separates the driver’s input shaft from the motor assist shaft. This combination is said to provide quicker response to driver inputs, improved accuracy and a more natural steering feel.
There’s also a new, top-of-the-line GT trim level, which comes with electronically controlled dampers – a first for the WRX – with three settings (Comfort, Normal and Sport) to choose from. These are selectable via the Drive Mode Select system, which offers additional options to configure steering feel as well. Alloy wheel sizes are either 17 or 18 inches depending on trim level, while ventilated disc brakes are used for all four corners.
To go along with the new architecture, the WRX also gets a FA24F 2.4 litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine from the Ascent that has more displacement than the outgoing model’s 2.0 litre unit. Highlights include a turbocharger equipped with an electronically controlled wastegate and air bypass valves that help improved responsiveness and acceleration.
Despite the larger engine, the outputs are only marginally higher. The FA24F serves up 271 hp at 5,600 rpm and 350 Nm from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm compared to the previous (US-spec) model that packs 268 hp and 350 Nm, although Subaru states that the torque curve is now broader.
Even when compared to the Ascent, the WRX wins in terms of horsepower (versus 260 hp), but loses out when it comes to torque (versus 376 Nm). For now, there are no performance figures, but we should expect them to be an improvement.
Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Active Torque Vectoring systems are paired with the engine along with the aforementioned six-speed manual transmission. The alternative is a new CVT that is said to offer 30% faster upshifts and 50% faster downshifts between the second and third virtual gears.
These developments are said to reduce the “rubber band” effect typically associated with CVTs, and Subaru even threw in an adaptive shift control system that can quickly respond to perform rev-matching “downshifts” under braking. Drivers can also choose from three transmission modes in the SI-Drive system, including a virtual eight-speed manual mode. An available external transmission fluid cooler improves durability and capability under demanding conditions.
Design-wise, the latest WRX is a near spitting image of the Viziv Performance Concept that Subaru presented way back in October 2017. Significantly more aggressive in look than its predecessor, the front fascia features a hexagonal-shaped grille with creases that lead to sharp LED headlamps.
Meanwhile, the lower apron has prominent sections that accommodate the LED fog lamps, accompanied by a honeycomb mesh that is also applied for the grille insert. The trademark bonnet scoop is now wider too, while the front fenders are made of aluminium to save 2.3 kg.
As seen on the concept, the black body cladding pieces are angular in shape, but only the front ones get a vent on them. From the side, the defined character lines add to the aggression, although the overall profile with a boot lid lip spoiler is somewhat similar to the previous WRX.
You certainly won’t confuse the rear with the older car, as there are C-shaped taillights linked by a trim piece that runs the width of the tailigate. The busy lower apron is equally as flashy with a diffuser element, high-mounted reflectors and the obligatory quad tailpipes. It’s not as manic as the concept, but it comes close.
While it’s distinctively a WRX on the outside, the interior has more of an Outback vibe to it. A large, vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system with air vents on either side dominate the new dashboard, while the air vents at the corners are sleeker compared to the square units previously.
Unlike the new BRZ, there’s no digital gauge cluster here; it’s just analogue gauges with a central multi-info display. However, you can specify an 11-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with GreenEdge and Clari-Fi technologies, delivering 504 watts of amplification.
It’s still a sporty and driver-focused interior, as the gear shifter has been brought forward slightly and there’s a trusty handbrake within easy reach. There’s also red contrast stitching and carbon-fibre pattern accents to enhance the interior, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and if you go for the top GT trim, Recaro seats trimmed in black Ultrasuede (powered for the drive).
In the safety department, the WRX comes with seven airbags and all automatic-equipped trims come with the EyeSight suite of systems as standard. The latter sees an improved Lane Departure Prevention system, plus Automatic Emergency Steering, Pre-Collision Braking System, and another first for the WRX, Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centring.
The 2022 WRX will be available at Subaru retailers in the US in early 2022, so official pricing will only be released closer to then. No word on when a higher-performance WRX STI version will be released either, but it isn’t far-fetched to assume that there will be one in the future.
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