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The next-generation Subaru WRX has been a long time coming and should bring some significant changes for fans of the once-rally-derived model.
Here’s everything we know so far about the model which made Subaru a household name ahead of the new version’s imminent arrival in early 2022.
Keep in mind, the performance hero's launch is due before the end of Q1 2022, but there are still some major factors we do not know, like pricing, trim levels, or standard equipment. The cars spotted at the launch of the 2022 BRZ as pictured here were said to be indicative only, and were pre-production examples.
In Australia, the WRX will come in sedan and wagon form
That’s right, the Levorg sports wagon is no more, having been merged with the WRX range, serving as a load-lugging alternative.
This is because Australia will only receive the most powerful version of what would otherwise be called the Levorg, and as it shares its platform, engine, and much of its interior with the WRX sedan, there is little point separating them into their own model lines.
Unlike the sedan, the WRX Sportwagon has a more conservative approach to styling, losing the controversial plastic claddings and wild rear bumper design which has made the sedan so polarising.
The Sportwagon is also only available with the brand’s new sports continuously variable automatic transmission, and unlike the sedan, won’t be able to be chosen as a six-speed manual.
New engine, new platform
The Subaru WRX has merged onto the same Subaru Global Platform (SGP) as the rest of the brand’s range. This means stronger rigidity and therefore theoretically better handling, improved impact absorption, the full and updated dual-camera EyeSight active safety suite on automatic versions, and Subaru also claims it imbues the car with better levels of steering responsiveness and ride comfort.
The new 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine replaces the outgoing 2.0-litre unit, now producing 202kW/350Nm, and continuing to drive all four wheels via the brand’s signature ‘symmetrical all-wheel drive’ system. It is also paired to a new continuously variable automatic, which the brand dubs the Subaru Performance Transmission, or a reinforced six-speed manual for the sedan only.
Upgraded safety technology
Not only will automatic versions of the WRX pack the latest version of the brand’s EyeSight safety suite, which now has a ‘wider viewing angle’ and support for junction assist, but if the brand follows the same model as it has with the BRZ, it will also come standard with rear-facing active safety items, like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear AEB.
For the first time, the WRX will also feature an electric brake booster, which is said to increase brake responsiveness and assists the active system in stopping the car more quickly.
It shares much of its interior with the new-generation Outback
That means a similar design, but most importantly the brand’s new enormous portrait-oriented multimedia touchscreen, replacing the two screens which appeared on the outgoing car.
The large layout, covering 11.6 inches, allows users to have both Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity as well as access to climate functions through the same panel. Where it differs from the Outback, though, is in its seats, where the front passengers are treated to new bucket-style seats co-developed with Recaro.
It is likely to be affected by stock shortages in 2022
Like the BRZ sports car before it, we expect supply of the new WRX to be hampered by the plethora of issues facing Subaru globally, from the semiconductor shortage to other COVID-related logistics delays.
It is unclear whether the sedan and wagon pair will be able to be ordered on a first-come-first-served basis, or whether there will be set numbers of stock allocations as it was for the first 500 units of the BRZ. Subaru would not be drawn on the topic at the launch of the BRZ, saying it was “hard to say for now” and that it was “working through supply issues with the factory”.
A full-fat STI grade rumoured to have much more power is on the way
Disappointed with the moderate bump in power the 2022 WRX is confirmed to have? A full fat STI grade will follow, expected to be revealed in March. And rumours from overseas media suggest it will get a punchier version of the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, supposedly producing somewhere in the ballpark of 295kW.
This would seem to put it more in the performance leagues of the Toyota GR Supra (285kW) and new Nissan Z (298kW) for something of a JDM performance revival, but we’ll wait and see if these rumours will come true.