It turns out that cheap, or at least reasonably priced, fun still exists. Who knows?
The 2022 Subaru WRX is new, right down to the platform. With turbocharged power, a manual transmission, simple controls and functional design, the rally sport sedan lives up to its heritage and at a good price. But it has some functional flaws, a divisive design, and a direction that could be better.
After spending a week pushing the 2022 Subaru WRX around town, this is where it hits and misses.
Subaru hasn’t forgotten what makes a WRX a WRX, and the 6-speed manual transmission remains standard.
Blow: Let’s unite!
It seems Subaru has embraced the WRX’s original mission as a rally car for the street. It’s got all the right equipment for the job: standard all-wheel drive, a turbocharged engine, manual transmission, and sporty handling. The new WRX 2.4-liter turbo-4 makes 271 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. Boost comes on earlier than in the last generation car. The 6-speed manual has a few notches, but it’s satisfying in an era of dual-clutch and automatic gearboxes. The most overlooked part is a manual parking brake that’s itching to be pulled for sideways action. You won’t find that in a current, or likely upcoming, Honda Civic Type R.
The WRX’s steering is too fast.
Miss: Light to the touch
The WRX’s steering is a bit light. With crosswinds on the highway, with roads covered in ice and snow, an annoying amount of correction was required to keep things tidy and stable. It’s less obtrusive at parking speeds. This was not an issue with the last WRX, and I would prefer a slightly heavier, more stable steering.
Dimpled fenders are more about function than form.
Hit: Dimpled, but not for spin
Excessive cladding with an unfinished look is a point of contention for many. The WRX’s fender liner may not look good, but it’s functional. The plastic features a dimpled finish almost like a golf ball. road track reported that this helps improve airflow. Engineers said the unpainted, textured flares worked significantly better at keeping air flowing smoothly around the car than the plain, painted flares. Beyond that, the front flares have functional ventilation for additional aerodynamic improvements. Function is always sexy in a sports car, even if looks aren’t.
The rear end of the latest WRX is more Honda Civic than Subaru WRX.
Miss: civic vibes
The front end of the latest WRX takes an evolutionary design approach. It is more elegant than before and looks good. The rear end looks like a ninth generation Honda Civic (2011-2014). It’s a shame the rear hasn’t taken an evolutionary approach like the front. If you’re going to copy someone’s homework, at least copy someone who passed the test.
One-touch automatic window controls are a delight.
Hit: One touch is a premium touch
The WRX is an economy sports car, not a premium luxury sedan. However, my $33,100 Premium model featured one-touch window controls for each window and each switch. That was a nice surprise. The flat-bottomed flywheel is just the right size, though it’s a shame it can’t be heated. This is a Subaru after all.
How many touches does it take to turn on the heated seats in a Subaru?
Miss: functionality issues
Subarus are usually easy-to-ride machines, and in many ways the WRX is too. Examples include the manual parking brake and easy-to-read analog gauges. But the new 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system, first seen in the Outback, is prone to glare due to its mounting angle. Regardless of which screen is displayed, two touches on the screen are required to turn on the seat heaters. That’s silly in any car, especially a Subaru. The Forester retains small rocker switches on the center console that provide a satisfying click when in use. The WRX doesn’t. The seat heaters also don’t turn back on after a key cycle like many new cars. At 5-foot-10, I found that the center console places the center armrest too far back for comfortable use while traveling down the road.
Functional niceties aside, the 2022 Subaru WRX simply can’t be beat in terms of performance per dollar.
2022 Subaru WRX Premium
Base price: $30,100 including $995 destination
Tested price: $33,100
Powertrain: 271-hp 6-speed manual transmission, 2.4-liter turbocharged, flat-4 wheel drive, all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 19/26/22 miles per gallon
The hits: Strong turbocharged power, value, premium touches, functional design and aerodynamics
The ladies: Functional issues, controversial cladding, rear end looks like a Civic, overstretched steering