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The high-performance turbocharged sedan comes standard with AWD and is perfect for the Pacific Northwest.

COURTESY PHOTO: SUBARU - The 2022 Subaru WRX is the best yet and is available in a new top-of-the-line GT version that comes standard wtih a quick-shifting performance CVT/automatic transmission.Serious affordable sport compacts are a dying breed. Fortunately, arguably the best of them, the Subaru WRX, is still around and better than ever for 2022. It is the only one with all-wheel-drive, while a new top-of-the-line GT version comes standard with an adaptive suspension and a continuously variable Subaru Performance Transmission that is a genuine alternative to the six-speed manual available in lower trim levels.

Inspired by the influential hot-rodded Volkswagen Rabbit GTI that debuted in America in 1974, many manufacturers rushed to produce performance-oriented versions of their own affordable compacts. Sometimes known as "hot hatches," they offered a lot of fun for relatively little money. Subaru entered the field in the early 1990s with a turbocharged version of its Impreza compact that was successfully campaigned in amateur and professional rallies, thanks in large part to its standard AWD.

COURTSY PHOTO: SUBARU - All versions of the 2022 Subaru WRX come standard with all-wheel-drive and the new GT version includes special trim.

Although interest in such cars has waned in recent years, Subaru still offers a WRX version of its completely redesigned 2022 Impreza that is better than every. It features sleeker styling, a more refined interior, and a more powerful 271 horsepower flat four engine. The adaptive suspension smooths out the ride and the SPT transmission makes day-to-day driving easier, while still offering good performance. It offers several drive modes, including Comfort, Sport and the even more responsive Sport+. Car and Driver magazine found the automatic-equipped 2022 WRX GT was slightly faster zero to 0 than the manual version, 5.4 seconds compared to 5.5.

The base version of the WRX is a bargain at around $31,000. The GT version is considerably more at about $42,000 but includes the adaptive suspension, SPT transmission, special trim and more. Two other trim levels are offered between those two. All are available with Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance and safety system. It provides adaptive cruise control as well as automatic emergency braking, emergency steering assistance and more. Subaru has also upgraded the infotainment screen to a large 11.6-inch touchscreen on most trims, though the base trim comes with dual seven-inch screens. As you move up the trim levels, leather upholstery, heated seats, and navigation become available.

COURTESY PHOTO: SUBARU - The interior of the 2022 Subaru WRX is clean and practical, and the upper time levels come a large 11.6-inch touch screen. Manual transmission version pictured.

Over a week of test driving, the 2022 WRX GT was very easy to live with while still offering stunning performance on demand. That hasn't always been the case for Subaru's performance model, which was closer to a subcompact when it first debuted, suffered from frumpy styling and inferior interior materials, and had suspensions that were punishing on rough roads. All those issues have now been fully solved. The only downside is that the WRX is no longer available at a hatchback, but the fastback styling of the sedan version is the most attractive yet.

Subaru has upped its game across the board in recent years, upgrading all models and introducing more off-road oriented Wilderness versions of its popular Forester and Outback SUVs. The newer Ascent is a serious effort to compete in the three-row American SUV market, while the all-electric Solterra proves it is committed to tackling the emerging EV market. But all enthusiasts should be thankful the company remains committed to the WRX.

COURTESY PHOTO: SUBARU - Recaro sport seats are stndard in the GT version of the 2022 Subaru WRX.

My WRX GT tester arrived just as the first heavy Fall rains rolled it. The legendary Symmetrical AWD system that comes standard on all Subaru's kept it glued to the road, even during quick driving on slick streets. It was never noticeable, even when shifting the traction between wheels. That's a big reason why Subaru is such a popular brand in the wet Pacific Northwest — and why the WRX is an ideal performance car for such conditions.

COURTESY PHOTO: SUBARU - The 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer four-cylinder engine in the 2022 Subaru WRX pumps out 271 horsepower and 258 foot pounds of torque.

2022 Subaru WRX

Base price: $30,600 (Base)

Price as tested: $42,890 (GT)

Type: Compact sedan

Engine: 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (271 hp, 258 lbs-ft)

Transmissions: 6-speed manual; Subaru Performance Transmission (SPT) (as tested)

Drive modes: Normal, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual

EPA estimated mileage: 19/25

Overall length: 183.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,390 pounds

Final assembly: Gunma, Japan


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