It was 20 years ago that Subaru brought the first WRX to American buyers. The 2002 WRX was a revolutionary car for Subaru. The brand had made a series of hardy all-wheel-drive cars, but they were rarely fast. The WRX changed all that, putting Subaru solidly in the ranks of performance sports car manufacturers. The name stood for World Rally eXperimental, a nod to the company's success in the FIA World Rally Championship. To American driving enthusiasts, the WRX name became synonymous with fast, great-handling, and comfortable cars.
Now for the 20th anniversary of the first WRX in America, the latest generation WRX is ready to take on our roads. The new WRX is the most powerful ever offered, with 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged dual overhead cam 2.4-liter boxer engine. This is the same engine that powers Subaru's midsize Ascent crossover SUV, but in the smaller sedan body it's a home run.
The turbo engine is paired with the buyer's choice of a crisp six-speed manual transmission or the automatic Subaru Performance Transmission. The SPT is based on a continuously variable unit, but developed to simulate an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifting. Either way, the new WRX is equipped with Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, which gives the car its remarkable traction and acceleration capability on limited traction road surfaces. That's pretty much everywhere in the Pacific Northwest right now, and there's a reason Subaru owns the wintertime.
The new generation WRX is built on Subaru's global standard platform, and this chassis structure is substantially more rigid than the previous body shell. At the suspension mount points, the new structure is 75% stiffer. The suspension and steering have also been redesigned to deliver a precise and responsive car. The new suspension gives the driver a keen sense of the road, while also soaking up the bumps with ease. The WRX corners without perceptible body roll and maintains grip on the road under all conditions.
Inside, Subaru has kept up with current tech, offering an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment interface with voice control, Apple and Android phone integration, and optional advanced driver assistance features. Subaru's EyeSight system of adaptive cruise control, lane assistance, and collision mitigation is available only with the automatic transmission, but blind spot monitoring and automatic high beam control are available with the manual.
Inside, the WRX is offered with several different seat trims, including Recaro Ultrasuede seats in the new top GT trim. The GT trim also includes electronically adjustable shock dampers, as well as the Subaru Performance Transmission.
On the road, the WRX is fast, precise, and composed. The best thing about a WRX has always been that it's a sports car you can drive every day with ease and comfort. That's even more true with the new generation. This car is a joy to drive, whether you're headed to work or you're carving your way over the mountains.
One last thing: the new WRX runs against the modern trend of boring colors. If you really want it, you can get black, gray, silver or white, but the WRX is also available in red, orange, or two different shades of blue. Our test vehicle was painted in the dark Sapphire blue, which is beautiful and understated, but you can also get the traditional World Rally Blue, which has been a popular WRX color from the beginning. Final pricing has not been announced yet, but that's expected in January and we'll run a news story when we know the sticker prices. Sales are expected at area Subaru dealers starting in March for the manual transmission and April for the Subaru Performance Transmission. If you've been a fan of the WRX over the last 20 years or if you just want to find out what the buzz is about, you will definitely want to schedule a test-drive as soon as possible.
2022 Subaru WRX
Base price: $TBD
Price as tested: $TBD
Type: Compact sedan
Engine: 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (271 hp, 258 lbs-ft)
Transmissions: 6-speed manual; Continuously Variable Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 19/26
Overall length: 183.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,390 pounds
Final assembly: Gunma, Japan
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