2022 Subaru WRX Premium Track Review: Serene Sports Sedan

2022 Subaru WRX Premium racetrack and autocross review highlights:

  • The 2022 Subaru WRX Premium is one step above the base version of the redesigned rally-inspired AWD sports sedan
  • While it’s not as serious as a hypothetical STI, the 2022 WRX Premium is nevertheless a fun, grippy, easy-to-handle performance sedan that’s gotten better as a daily-driver
  • If you’re looking for an AWD sports sedan in the mid-$30K range, the 2022 Subaru WRX stands alone

Though some are undoubtedly still salty that Subaru isn’t selling a new WRX STI, don’t immediately dismiss the 2022 WRX. Remember, this is one of the last rally-inspired practical sports cars you can still buy. And as exciting as the 2023 GR Corolla is, the WRX is the subtler set of wheels. But as I discovered after driving a 2022 Subaru WRX Premium around Road America and the autocross course, ‘subtle’ doesn’t mean ‘sedate.’  

The 2022 Subaru WRX is more refined but still follows a refreshingly simple recipe

2022 Subaru WRX Premium
Engine2.4-liter turbocharged boxer-four
Horsepower271 hp
Torque258 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Curb weight3320 lbs
0-60 mph time5.5 seconds
Price$32,105 (base)
$33,100 (as tested)

While past WRXs had solid dynamics and performance figures, they fell a bit short on overall refinement. So, rather than just bumping up the horsepower, Subaru decided the 2022 WRX should be a more civilized sports sedan. However, that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten its rally roots entirely.

On the performance side, the 2022 Subaru WRX is virtually identical to the 2021 model. Although its engine is 20% larger, it only makes three more horsepower. In addition, because of the 2.4-liter boxer’s lower redline and the manual’s new gear ratios, hitting 60 mph takes an extra shift. However, the new engine doesn’t suffer from rev hang. And it has some other performance upsides that I’ll cover shortly.

You won’t find the biggest changes under the hood, though. Instead, they’re sprinkled outside and inside the 2022 Subaru WRX.

For one, although not everyone digs the look, its new plastic fender flares are aerodynamically functional. Secondly, it has a new, stiffer chassis with additional sound-deadening material, a lower center of gravity, and a directly-attached rear anti-roll bar. And because the WRX’s chassis is stiffer, Subaru could build more compliance into its suspension without spoiling the handling. Also, speaking of handling, the WRX now has electric power steering which is also more responsive than the old hydraulic rack. Plus, Subaru overhauled the interior.

But as much as Subaru changed for the 2022 WRX, it thankfully kept some things the same. And I don’t just mean the boxer, manual, and AWD system. Firstly, this is a modern sports sedan with a manual handbrake and analog gauges. Also, while the top-level GT has adaptive shocks and its mandatory CVT has driving modes, the manual trims are far simpler. No need to go into Sport Mode, just get in and drive.

If the WRX Base is a bit too bare-bones, get the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium

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Subaru offers the 2022 WRX in four trims: Base, Premium, Limited, and GT. Besides the adaptive shocks, a fully-loaded WRX GT also offers Recaro sport seats, reverse automatic braking and Subaru’s EyeSight ADAS suite. However, as noted earlier, part of the 2022 WRX’s overhaul included some interior revisions. And though it’s less luxurious, the WRX Base isn’t totally lacking in features.

In addition to numerous material improvements, the 2022 Subaru WRX Base also comes standard with dual 7.0” center touchscreens. Unfortunately, the manual transmission is incompatible with EyeSight. However, the WRX Base does have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and remote keyless entry.

My test car, though, was a 2022 Subaru WRX Premium. So, rather than dual 7.0” touchscreens, there’s a single vertically-oriented 11.6” touchscreen. In addition, the Premium has fog lights, keyless entry with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18” alloy wheels, alloy pedals, dual USB ports, and a rear center armrest. Plus, it comes standard with the All-Weather Package, which adds a windshield de-icer, heated mirrors, and three-stage heated front seats.

On the track, though, the luxuries faded into the background—and the 2022 Subaru WRX’s true character came into focus.

It’s no raucous rally car, but this sports sedan makes track and autocross work look easy

There are some downsides to the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium’s new livability. Firstly, the steering is too light and could use more feedback. Though to be fair, next to the MX-5 Miata and Toyota GR86 I also drove, most cars have numb and light steering. Secondly, while the shifter is satisfyingly notchy at first, the throws are also a bit too light and ropey. And while they have some bolstering, the standard seats are definitely no Recaros.

However, just because the 2022 WRX is more refined doesn’t mean it’s forgotten that it’s a sports sedan. The larger boxer engine still has that Scooby warble, but it pulls even harder everywhere in the rev range with only a hint of turbo lag. That’s thanks to the broader torque curve as well as the redesigned wastegate. But the warble is never ridiculously loud; remember, this WRX went to finishing school. And the power delivery is linear and smooth, too. Plus, no more rev hang, Road & Track notes.

In addition, the steering is suitably fast and accurate, and it does weight up in the corners. Also, though the shifter could be weightier, it is slick and easy to use. And not only are the brakes strong, but you can rotate the car with them to set your cornering line better.

Speaking of corners, they’re where the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium really shines. Its AWD system means it has acres of grip, which was a major blessing given the rain we experienced on the main track. It also made the next day, which was dry, feel like a video game’s easy mode. And few things make you mentally comfortable faster than the security of AWD.

Yet the WRX’s AWD doesn’t get in the way of fun times. Plus, though it corners flat, the smidge of body roll keeps you in the loop about weight transfer. This is a far more playful car than the other AWD car I drove, the BMW M240i xDrive. And to me, that matters more than any lap time advantage.

Is the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium worth sliding—or sliding into?

The side view of an orange 2022 Subaru WRX Premium in the Road America parking lot
2022 Subaru WRX Premium side | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

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In 2022, the Subaru WRX stands at an interesting place in the performance car world. Mainly that’s because it’s really the only AWD sports sedan at this price point. You could get a 2022 Golf R, which is faster, but it costs over $10,000 more than my Premium test car and has a worse AWD system. And though the 2022 GTI is closer in price, it’s also slower than the WRX and lacks AWD.

Viewed in that light, the WRX is arguably worth it. If I was buying one, I might be tempted to pay the extra $4300 and get the Limited, with its extra ADAS features and Harman Kardon audio system. However, as I said earlier, there’s a charming simplicity to the Premium.

Admittedly, I didn’t drive the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium on a paved road or off-road course. But based on what others have said about it, I imagine it could handle potholes and gravel just fine. It’s not an STI, but it stands and slides just fine on its own merits.

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