Subaru’s new-generation rally sedan breaks cover, with a new platform, interior and engine – though fans hoping for a major performance increase may need to wait for the STI halo.
After years of rumours, leaks and a delayed reveal event, the wraps have officially come off the all-new 2022 Subaru WRX on Friday night, expected in Australian showrooms in the second quarter of 2022 (April to June inclusive).
The first new WRX in nearly eight years, the 2022 iteration of Subaru’s rally-inspired hero sedan gains an evolutionary new look, an all-new interior, a slew of active safety features, and underpinnings shared with the brand’s latest models – along with a brand-new engine.
As rumoured widely over the past 12 months, the new-generation WRX is powered by a high-output version of the US-market Outback’s 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine, developing 202kW (at 5600rpm) and 350Nm (from 2000-5200rpm).
Those outputs represent an increase of just 5kW over the outgoing Australian model (or 2kW in the US) – though peak torque begins 400rpm earlier than before – and fall short of the 213kW/412Nm outputs rumoured prior to launch by Japanese media.
Drive is sent to all four wheels through a choice of six-speed manual or ‘Subaru Performance Transmission’ automatic gearboxes – the latter believed to be a CVT, as before, though the self-shifting box gains faster upshifts and downshifts, eight stepped ‘ratios’, and paddle shifters.
Subaru hasn’t quoted a 0-100km/h time, though expect a similar figure to the outgoing WRX’s 6.0-second dash to the speed limit.
Under the skin, the new WRX rides on Subaru’s latest modular Subaru Global Platform (SGP) shared with the latest Levorg wagon, Impreza small car and other models, offering increased use of structural adhesives and a lower centre of gravity.
Versus the car it replaces, Subaru quotes a 28 per cent increase in torsional rigidity, a 75 per cent increase in suspension mounting point rigidity, and revised suspension geometry and components for reduced body roll and improved handling.
Adaptive dampers are fitted for the first time (standard on the flagship GT variant in the US), joining a revised Active Torque Vectoring system, dual-pinion electric power steering, double-wishbone independent suspension, and a mechanical centre differential on some grades.
Filling the arches are a choice of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels in the US, wrapped in 245mm tyres, and hiding ventilated front and rear brake discs. Up to 430 different customisation options are available through a new Drive Mode Select system.
The new WRX measures 4669mm long, 1826mm wide and 1468mm high, riding on a 2672mm wheelbase – 74mm longer overall, 31mm wider, 7mm lower and 22mm longer in wheelbase than the model it replaces.
On the styling front, the fifth-generation WRX draws direct design inspiration from the Viziv Performance concept of 2017 – though, like many new road-legal Subaru models inspired by concept cars in recent years, the show car’s exaggerated wheel arches and sharp lines have been toned down for production.
Up front, the concept’s hexagonal lower intakes carry over to the production car, though the headlights, grille and distinctive bonnet scoop draw close links to the new-generation Levorg wagon – a car rumoured to adopt the WRX Wagon name (and its 2.4-litre engine) when it launches in Australia in 2022.
The alloys are surrounded by black, SUV-like wheel-arch flares, and joined by black finishes on the front bumper intakes, more aggressive rear diffuser and side skirts. Aluminium front quarterpanels save 2.3kg in total.
At the rear, a pair of C-shaped tail-lights (similar to the new BRZ sports coupe) sit on either side of the boot lid – connected by a black trim strip – with quad exhaust tips mounted below.
Inside, the WRX shares much of its cabin with its Levorg twin, with an 11.6-inch portrait infotainment touchscreen sitting in the centre of the dashboard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and satellite navigation.
A leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and analogue instrument dials sit in front of the driver, while a manual handbrake is placed between the passengers in manual transmission variants (with CVT auto models using an electric parking brake instead).
Other interior features include an available 11-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, carbon-fibre interior trim and, on the range-topping GT in the ‘States, a set of Recaro front sports seats with Ultrasuede upholstery, red contrast stitching, and eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment.
Subaru’s suite of EyeSight active safety aids are standard on CVT automatic models, including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane-centring assist and automatic emergency steering, along with seven airbags. It’s not clear whether any of these active features are available on manual variants.
The 2022 Subaru WRX is expected to go on sale in Australia in the second quarter of 2022 (April to June) – though specific timing has yet to be locked in. Customers can now register their interest through the Subaru Australia website. Pricing is expected to increase from the current model’s $40,990 before on-road costs entry price.
It’ll be joined in showrooms by the new BRZ sports coupe in January, and a new-generation Levorg wagon (potentially with WRX badging) in early 2022. A new-generation WRX STI flagship is likely to debut sometime in 2022 or 2023.