The redesigned WRX sticks close to the rally car-inspired formula it established 20 years ago, giving drivers a four-door sedan with a powerful turbocharged engine, road-hugging suspension, and all-wheel drive. It’s a blast to pilot down a tight and twisty back road, but Subaru’s focus on performance comes at the expense of everyday livability, thanks to its stiff ride and noisy cabin. The WRX’s new infotainment touchscreen has a few frustrating aspects, as well.
For 2022, Subaru swapped the previous 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in favor of a retuned version of the 2.4-liter turbocharged horizontally-opposed four-cylinder that does duty in the Ascent, Legacy XT, and Outback XT models. The new engine makes a minor gain in peak power, rising from 268 horsepower to 271, but what’s important here is that it’s delivered in a smoother and more predictable manner. The WRX is a speedy little car when fitted with the standard-equipment six-speed manual transmission, shown by its sprint from 0 to 60 mph of just 5.8 seconds. There’s plenty of power on hand when the engine is kept spinning between 3,000 to 6,000 rpm, but it can feel a little lazy at low rpm, especially in taller gears. That’s okay by us; we enjoy the six-speed manual’s robust and accurate feel, even if the gates are a bit notchy. The WRX is far from a fuel-sipper, though; it managed just 25 mpg overall in our testing, running on the required premium fuel. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available as an extra-cost option, but it dilutes the WRX’s ultra-sporty demeanor.