The rally-honed Subaru WRX has been reborn for 2022 with a new platform, overhauled interior and heavily upgraded chassis – but it still uses a turbocharged boxer engine and offers a manual gearbox.
On show at the Los Angeles motor show ahead of sales getting underway, the fifth-generation WRX, which has been marketed separately from the Impreza on which it is based since 2015, arrives three years after its predecessor was pulled from the UK. And, like its closely related BRZ sibling, it will not be sold in the UK. Subaru’s UK managing director, John Hurtig, told Autocar last year this decision was taken to allow the brand to focus on its more mainstream SUV line-up.
“[The WRX] was a performance car, a rally car,” Hurtig said. “It was a good era in UK. But it’s history. It’s a long time ago now. It has nothing really to do with the Subaru brand as it is today.”
Power comes from Subaru’s new 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine – a format used by every WRX since the Mk1 of 1992. Here, it pumps 271bhp and 258lb ft (43bhp and 74lb ft more than the naturally aspirated unit in the BRZ). Power goes to both axles via a six-speed manual gearbox or a new automatic Subaru Performance Transmission (SPT) said to offer 30% faster upshifts and 50% faster downshifts.
The torque curve has been broadened to give peak output from 2000rpm to 5200rpm and Subaru claims the extra 400cc of displacement – along with a new electronically controlled turbo wastegate and bypass valves – improves the throttle response.
One of the most significant evolutions for the WRX is the switch to Subaru’s new Global Platform, shared with the Outback estate and Forester crossover. This is claimed to bring “a substantial upgrade in ride and handling performance”, with increased chassis stiffness and a lower centre of gravity. It’s said to have 28% more torsional rigidity than the previous chassis and the rear stabiliser bar is now mounted directly to the body (rather than the subframe) for flatter cornering performance.