Without warning, Subaru suddenly dropped the covers off the 2022 WRX this past Friday. (I was at IMS Outdoors so I’m only getting to this now.) The result is… underwhelming.
Appearance wise, it’s very similar to the current car. I had a 2015 WRX, so I’m quite familiar with it. The main difference is the addition of a lot of ugly unpainted plastic. It’s as though Subaru is trying to turn the WRX into a Crosstrek sedan. Unpainted plastic is supposed to look tough. I think it looks cheap instead. Immediately the internet began comparing pictures of this orange WRX to an orange Pontiac Aztek. The resemblance isn’t perfect, but there is some. Considering that the Aztek is often called the ugliest car ever made, that is not a compliment.
The other disappointment is a horsepower increase from 268 to 271. That’s basically nothing. We expected at least something over 300, particularly since the displacement has increased from 2.0 to 2.4 liters. What gives, Subaru?
The news isn’t all bad, however. The interior gets an update, though there’s a still a lot of “plastic fantastic” motif going on. Most striking is the 11.6-inch Starlink touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. It looks like this controls almost everything, with a very tablet-like display visible in the pictures, yet it’s good to see just a couple of knobs off to either side as well. Sometimes you just need to quickly turn the volume down, and a knob works much better than hunting through menus for it.
Another addition is the GT model, which will presumably be the new mid-grade of the range between the base WRX and the top-of-the-line STI. It has SI-Drive features, which sounds similar to the STI. The GT also gets electronically adjustable shocks, similar to the Volkswagen GTI, as well as standard “Subaru Performance Transmission,” which is automatic. GT is traditionally an acronym for “Grand Touring,” so an automatic is not out of place with that purpose. The old Legacy GT used this designation as well, and was itself quite good.
Subaru makes all kinds of claims like a track-tuned suspension and improved NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) EyeSight is standard on all automatic models. That qualification is necessary because yes, the WRX is still available with a manual transmission, thank goodness. For all of its shortcomings, at least it has that.
To say the WRX enthusiast community is underwhelmed would be an understatement. Subaru’s had seven years to come up with a better WRX. Instead we get this. I’ll have to withhold judgement until I see one in person and can actually drive it, but first impressions count, and they’re not great. Still, it’s one of the few remaining true sport sedans out there, and there’s a lot to be said for that. Though honestly, I’d certainly consider a Crosstrek given the WRX treatment.