When it comes ‘pocket rockets’ the Subaru WRX has form. Launched in 1992, the WRX,
which stands for World Rally Experimental, became an instant icon, winning three
consecutive makers’ world championships.
Landing Down Under two years later, the WRX since has enjoyed strong sales in the
sports sedan segment thanks, principally, to its trademark Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
system linked to a compact four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘boxer’ engine.
Fast forward to 2022, with the fifth-generation model giving rise to a new maturity to a
driving experience which previously had been unsophisticatedly on the wild side. Now
‘Rex’ has grown up – there’s even a Sportswagon on offer – broadening the family appeal.
Not that performance has been left behind.
Peak engine power has been pushed up to 202 kW thanks to a new 2.4 litre direct
injection turbocharged horizontally opposed Boxer unit, mated with a new Subaru
Performance Transmission, leading to boosted sports car-style acceleration.
Added to this are a low centre of gravity and improved power-to-weight ratio producing
stability and acceleration, while a redesigned body and reworked chassis chip in with
increased rigidity for improved control, steering response and cornering…
On test was the RS six-speed manual, which sells for $50,490, plus on-road costs. Closest
rival is the Hyundai i30 Sedan N Premium auto which tips the scales at a little over
Yes, the hallmark bonnet scoop is still there in its familiar spot, despite a redesigned body
showing off a more assertive appearance. Slim yet powerful LED headlamps are slotted in
to the front flanks supporting an aggressive double-decker grille sporting the WRX
Dusk sensing auto on / off headlights are self-levelling and respond to steering action,
while puddle lights are incorporated in door mirrors.
Robust side fenders and wheel arches cap distinctive 18-inch alloy wheels, shod with
245/40 R18 97Y tyres, while side skirts, a reworked rear spoiler, diffuser and dual twin tail
pipes tip their cap to the car’s rally pedigree.
Premium Ultrasuede seat trim in black and grey, with contrasting red stitching, introduces
a new level of luxury to WRX RS, tS and Sportswagon. Driver and front passenger
positions, plus rear outboard seats, are heated. Rear are 60 / 40 folding.
A leather wrapped steering wheel, with WRX logo, is adjustable for height and reach, while
alloy sports pedals complete the picture. Dual zone climate control and ambient lighting
set the tone for passenger comfort.
Storage includes a centre console box with adjacent cup holders, the latter repeated in the
rear. Door pockets front and rear have an integrated bottle holder. There’s a 12V/120W
power jack and USB charge point for rear passengers.
A multi-Information display in front of the driver features a 4.2-inch LCD screen. Gone is
the additional performance strip atop the central dashboard.
Focus of a centre information display is an 11.2-inch tablet-style touchscreen, with
generous-size icons which are easy reach and operate. On tap are satellite navigation, AM
/ FM digital radio with 10 harman / kardon speakers, subwoofer and amplifier producing
clear sound. There is even a single CD player.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity includes hands-free communication and
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
While the WRX still relies on a direct injected, turbocharged horizontally-opposed Boxer
four-cylinder petrol engine the 2.0-litre unit has been replaced with a 2.4-litre one. The
result is 202 kW (up 4 kW) of peak power at 5600 rpm and 350 Nm (5 Nm more) of torque
on tap from 2000 to 5200 rpm.
In the test WRX RS power was put to ground via a six-speed manual transmission and
Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System with centre differential with a viscous
Vehicle Dynamics are under control via electronic stability control, anti-lock braking,
electronic brakeforce distribution, brake Assist, traction control and active torque vectoring.
A monitoring system focuses on the driver through facial recognition and includes
distraction and drowsiness warnings. Reverse camera and blind spot monitor keep an eye
out for external intrusions, as does rear cross-traffic alert, front and side view monitor.
Eight airbags – dual front, dual front side, dual curtain, driver’s knee and front passenger
seat cushion – are on hand in the event of a collision.
Drawing on generations of rally success, the all-new MY22 WRX delivers more power, an
upgraded sports suspension and Subaru’s ubiquitous Symmetrical All-Wheel drive as
Not that the new Rex is on the wild side. In fact, it’s smooth going on accelerating under
normal city traffic conditions, with subdued sound not associated with cars of past
However, plant the accelerator pedal and the Boxer motor roars into life, literally, with the
deep note typical of the ilk. No sprint figure is indicated but it’s enough to make overtaking
of the ‘normal’ vehicle a breeze.
On the down side, the need to change gear often in heavy traffic can lead to a certain lack
of concentration, resulting in the odd duff shift (embarrassing). However, there are
warnings through facial recognition that the driver is wandering, physically and mentally.
Fuel consumption (95 RON) on test in the city topped 13 litres per 100 kilometres, which is
a financial pole vault rather than a high jump. On the open road, close to 9 litres per 100
Grip is of the usual high Subaru all-wheel drive standards coming in handy in stints on
open country roads.
Seating for five (eight-way power bucket sports style for driver and front passenger),
leaves 411 litres for luggage in the boot, which can be unlocked with a key fob button.
There’s only space for a temporary spare wheel.
Leg room in the back is adequate, head room at the mercy of the sunroof.
From the get-go the WRX, with its boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive, offered a
unique, if raw, sports car experience. Now, with upgraded engine and higher levels of
comfort and convenience Rex has matured. Boy (or girl) racers need not apply. This one is
for the cool grownups…
AT A GLANCE
Subaru WRX (AWD): $44,990
Subaru WRX (AWD): $48,990
Subaru WRX (AWD): $49,990
Subaru WRX RS (AWD): $50,490
Subaru WRX RS (AWD): $54,490
Subaru WRX GT (AWD): $55,490
Subaru WRX tS (AWD): $56,990
Subaru WRX tS (AWD): $57,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Subaru dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Subaru WRX RS Sedan 2.4L Turbo 4-cylinder Boxer petrol, 6sp
Capacity: 2.387 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders horizontally opposed
Maximum Power: 202 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 2000-5200 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol, 95 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 9.9 L/100km
CO2 emissions 225 g / km
DRIVELINE: Six-speed manual, all-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4670 mm
Wheelbase: 2675 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Height: 1465 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Tare Mass: 1516 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 63 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Five years / unlimited kilometres