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2022 Subaru WRX vs the world! Australian sportscar scene to heat up with new Honda Civic Type R, Toyota GR Yaris, Hyundai i30 N, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST rival

The 2022 Subaru WRX ditches the old 2.0-litre engine for a 2.4-litre unit, but power is up only 5kW to 202kW.

Subaru has finally lifted the cover on its all-new 2022 WRX, but reception to the fifth iteration of small car to wear the hallowed badge is … tepid, according to much online rhetoric.

‘Not enough of a power bump’, ‘the styling is too plasticky’, ‘touchscreen-only climate controls’ and ‘a top-spec version that is CVT only’ are some of the many complaints bandying about after the reveal over the weekend, but is the new WRX really that bad?

The WRX will compete in an illustrious performance segment against hot hatch favourites like the Hyundai i30 N and Honda Civic Type R, but also stands apart due to its rally roots and sedan-only body style.

Let’s break it down and see how the new Subaru WRX stacks up against its competition.

Engine and transmission

Ditching the outgoing model’s 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine for a larger 2.4-litre unit, the 2022 WRX pushes out 202kW/350Nm to all four wheels.

That’s an increase of only 5kW (torque remains steady), despite the larger displacement engine.

Paired to a six-speed manual gearbox or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), with the latter tuned for 30 and 50 per cent faster (simulated) upshifts and downshifts respectively.

Acceleration figures are still yet to be revealed, so it could be much quicker than before despite the modest power bump, but on paper, it doesn’t look good for the WRX.

Subaru’s latest performance hero is down on power compared to the Hyundai i30 N (206kW), Ford Focus ST (206kW) and Honda Civic Type R (228kW), while it looks like it will have the lowest torque output in its class.

Keep in mind though, that all aforementioned models are hatchbacks, while the WRX is a sedan, meaning it might line-up better against the 180kW/370Nm Skoda Octavia RS and 213kW/422Nm Hyundai Sonata N Line.

ModelPowerTorqueTransmission
Subaru WRX202kW350NmManual or CVT
Hyundai i30 N206kW392NmManual or DCT
VW Golf GTI180kW370NmDSG (auto) only
Ford Focus ST206kW420NmManual or DCT
Honda Civic Type R228kW400NmManual only
Toyota GR Yaris200kW370NmManual only
Skoda Octavia RS180kW370NmDSG (auto) only
Hyundai Sonata N Line213kW422NmDCT only

Pricing

This is still a big unknown for now, but if Subaru’s announcement last week of new-gen BRZ pricing is any indication, the WRX should remain fairly affordable.

For reference, the current car kicks off at $40,990 before on-road costs for the base manual, with the CVT adding another $3000 to the asking price.

If Subaru can keep price changes to a minimum, this could mean the WRX remains one of the more affordable options for those after a decently-sized do-it-all performance model, as the Hyundai i30 N has crept up to $44,500/$47,500 for the manual/auto respectively.

Likewise, the Ford Focus ST is positioned at $44,890 for either the manual or auto, while the auto-only Golf GTI is now $53,100.

The GR Yaris and Civic Type R are currently off the table for Australia – the former due to overwhelming demand and the latter readying a new-generation version.

However, it might be the $48,290 Skoda Octavia RS and $50,990 Hyundai Sonata N Line that are better matches in terms of size, if not price.

ModelStarting price
Subaru WRX???
Hyundai i30 N$44,500
VW Golf GTI$53,100
Ford Focus ST$44,890
Honda Civic Type RNot available
Toyota GR Yaris$49,500 (Order books currently closed)
Skoda Octavia RS$48,290
Hyundai Sonata N Line$50,990

Styling

Of course, this is a very subjective topic, but there is no denying the new Subaru WRX looks polarising thanks to its swathes of black-plastic cladding.

Though WRXs in the past have been based on the Impreza sedan and hatchback, Subaru spun it off into its own model in 2014, and this one is the biggest departure from its Impreza roots yet.

The front door panels look like the only components that could be carried over from the Impreza, with everything else seemingly unique to the WRX.

At the front, the 2022 WRX wears sharper headlights with a unique cut-in for a more aggressive look, while the grille is also larger than the Impreza.

Most noticeable though, is the black-plastic lower portion of the front bumper, which carries along around the wheelarches and side of the car.

In the rear, the boomerang-style tail-lights are reminiscent of the 10th-generation Honda Civic, while black plastic also encroaches onto the lower segment of the rear bumper to a large degree.

Quad-exhaust tips are featured, as is a subtle boot spoiler, shark-fin antenna and the WRX’s signature bonnet scoop to feed air into the a top-mount intercooler.

Interior

With many manufacturers moving away from touch-only interfaces due to consumer backlash, Subaru has opted to go all in on an 11.6-inch portrait display.

Luckily there is a physical volume knob, but controls to adjust fan speed and positioning are now integrated into the touchscreen, making it that much harder to fiddle with on the move.

While the exterior of the new WRX shouts performance and speed thanks to its aggressive styling, the inside of the new model looks subdued and a little hum-drum – but again this is down to personal opinion.

Without brightly-coloured racy accents and contrast stitching, the WRX cabin could be from any of Subaru’s mainstream models, with the only indication being a small model badge on the steering wheel.

Higher-spec grades look to at least get some red-stitching on the seats and door trims, as well as bespoke WRX headrests, and of course expect the incoming flagship STI grade to come with tight sports seats and performance dials to spruce things up.