Canadian pricing for the 2022 Subaru WRX starts at $30,995, and $29,605 in the US.
The all-new WRX powers on without an STI alternative.
The Subaru WRX is the first answer to: What sport compact car?
I’ve written this before, in 2022, and will again: 2022 is a good year for sport compact car fans. And it’s becoming one of my personal bests when it comes to the segment as, if all goes well, I will sample nearly all of the new introductions, including the legend that is the Subaru WRX.
What’s truly amazing about the segment is that it can and does appeal to all kinds of car owners. I’ve known doctors, contractors, mechanics, and a certain auto journalist (moi) who own and enjoy the WRX (and the STI’s) abilities. As an affordable four-season do-anything compact car, it’s unbeatable.
This is especially true of the base car. At $30,995, no other spirited small car delivers as much performance, on or off-road, track, or otherwise. Although it’s not the best driver of the sub-$40k lot, that title belongs to the Honda Civic Si, however, it is one of the fastest.
This is the result of the newly shoehorned turbocharged 2.4L 4-cylinder engine that produces 271 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Part of the controversy last year was the timid three-horsepower bump over the 2.0T but that was before drivers got a hold of the new Rex. Despite the horsepower and torque figures coming in at identical rpms (5,600 and between 2,000 and 5,200 respectively), the new 2022 Subaru WRX feels much faster.
On paper, both generations of the WRX will leap off the line and reach 100km/h in about 5.5 seconds. The 2.4T’s extra breathing room enables the mill to effortlessly deliver the power, removing what seemed like strain compared to the 2.0T. One explanation is that the 2.4T boosts to 12 psi while the 2.0T would build pressure up to nearly 16 psi. The best part is that once more despite nearly identical figures, the 2.4T feels like it pulls harder and longer at higher rpms.
Putting the power to work is wonderful thanks to the strengthened 6-speed manual transmission. Although its workings are reinforced, it still delivers the same mechanical experience where the driver can almost feel the gears, the forks, and the synchros in action.
The powertrain, although updated, is familiar – the sound, the grunt, the response, it’s all there. The new 2022 WRX’s most fundamental change is that it is now assembled on Subaru’s global platform. I’d be lying if I said the new car is considerably more refined than the previous because its on-road behaviour seems unchanged. Perhaps with time, as in years, the 2022 car won’t develop rattles and other annoyances as the previous cars did due to the stronger structure.
As always, the WRX’s chassis was developed and is tuned for multi-terrain use. This means the dampers allow for more body thanks to extra travel. This translates into pure entertainment when pushing through an onramp or when attacking switchbacks. I will note that, upon reading my review of the 2020 WRX, the 2022’s ride quality is nicer, and not quite as grainy.
Driving the WRX is pure joy and nostalgia. Although steering is electric, it delivers the same murky feel (not a bad thing) as my 2003 old Bugeye Rex and, to boot, the steering wheel is off by a few degrees, as has often been the case with sporty Subarus for the past 20+ years.
Another element that reminds me of the past is the brakes. As was the case with the previous car, the middle-pedal response is wooden. It’s not a real flaw as one quickly adapts to it but I thought it important to mention it.
A few words about the design and the interior
I don’t like the flares, but it doesn’t matter. The new WRX looks like a WRX. The base car should be available in more than three boring colours.
The cabin is nice save for the 11.6-inch touchscreen display which is laggy and a little too complex for my tastes.
See the video up top for more.
Base WRX>Above all others
And above all of the other mild sport compact cars. Having said that, the value and performance proposition included with the 2022 Subaru WRX would make me question the Volkswagen Golf R. Yes, the German is faster, more sophisticated, and for more refined but there’s a $15,000 premium to get into it!
Holy heck… That leaves two other heavy hitters: The new FL5 2023 Honda Civic Type R and the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla. Pricing for the latter is on par with the 2022 Golf R, or about $45,000. If all goes well, I’ll get to drive it in November. I expect that it will be very special and hyper-competent. As for the former, I expect it will retail for $50,000 and retain the CTR’s crown as the best-driving compact car in the world.
Opting for the as-tested Sport Tech, for just shy of $40,000, brings only extra weight hampering performance. Plus, the shrinking price gap with the R, GR, and CTR makes it more difficult to forgive its lower output is related to performance… Or does it really?
No matter how you slice it, the WRX is exceptional. So good in fact that a petrol-powered STI is unnecessary.