New 2022 Subaru WRX will preserve the joy of driving
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If you ever need an example of a “driver’s car,” the Subaru WRX really lives up to the description. The all-wheel-drive turbocharged rally-replica from the Constellation brand has always nailed driver appeal to its mast, delivering performance that’s normally out of reach at its modest price position while wrapping up a huge amount of dynamic potential in a family-friendly package.
The emotional appeal of any WRX made during the past 28 years is right off the scale thanks to gruff, off-beat sound effects of the boxer engine, the precise steering, the supple yet well-heeled suspension, and the way the car glues itself to the road. It has always been hard to unstick all the sustained grip of the Subaru’s all-wheel-drive chassis, and even if the limit is eventually found, the forgiving nature of the car will often instantly come to the rescue of any over-enthusiastic driver.
The invisible mechanical safety net that the WRX spreads for its drivers is a wide and generous one, and several Australian state police forces have made it their pursuit vehicle of choice for that reason.
Such are the sparkling driving dynamics of a car costing $48,990, that about the only valid criticism that can be made of the current model WRX is that it’s getting too old-school, having last received an update in 2014. That’s about to be addressed with the New Zealand debut of an all-new WRX towards the middle of next year.
Despite the increasing popularity of Subaru’s SUV range, the WRX is still a pivotal model for the brand, says Wallis Dumper, Managing Director at Subaru of New Zealand.
“There will obviously be the people who love to drive who will queue up for one of these and here is a very cool car that’s cleaner, faster, with more grunt and tech, and just better all-round than all the other impressions you ever had before - it’s a car that ‘drivers’ will love.”
The coming sixth generation MY2022 WRX has some big wheel tracks to follow. When the first WRX landed here back in 1993 it surprised the entire New Zealand motoring press corps by offering such a wealth of performance at such an accessible price, and then went on to further dazzle them for almost 30 years.
For Wallis, it’s hard not to smile when remembering his first drive of a WRX. “I came from a motorcycle background having road raced production bikes - a long time ago - and I can still remember going for my first drive in a WRX," he says.
“I had a big smile growing on my face - just like a lap of Manfeild on a production race bike - but way warmer and drier – and just as much fun."
He continues “then after we got the new World Rally Championship car in for Possum (Bourne), he took me for a ride in that and that was just WOW. Now days the standard WRX is bigger, safer, faster, and leaps taller buildings than the rally cars of those days! We are fortunate to represent a brand with models that are so engaging, great fun, safe, and rewarding.”
It’s the fun factor that the coming 2022 model is designed and engineered to preserve while meeting the challenges of reduced environmental impact through lower fuel consumption, improved aerodynamics, and more efficient emission control. Starting with a clean sheet of paper has also given the development team for the 2022 WRX opportunities to give the new model sharper new looks, and install new electronic architecture that will bring it fully up to date.
Although Subaru has only released information on the US specifications of the new WRX, it’s expected that the New Zealand models will mirror much of their equipment and technical details. First starting point for the new WRX is the Subaru Global Platform (SGP), which has already made all other Subaru models both stronger and lighter. In the coming WRX, the usual weight saving permitted by the use of the SGP is invested in increased structural integrity, more sophisticated electronics, and extra cabin space. Big gains in the rigidity of the body and the suspension and steering mounts have been won without making the car heavier.
Headlining the extensive chassis upgrade is the likely use of adaptive electronic dampers on the suspension of the coming New Zealand models. These will automatically adjust the way they control spring movements at the cue of three modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport. They’re not the only way that drivers will be able to tailor the new WRX to their preferences. There will also be the opportunity to select five driving modes, three powertrain settings, three steering selections, and two preferences – Normal and Sport – for the software controlling the all-wheel-drive hardware.
While the precocious handling persona associated with the WRX is likely to feel even perkier and more sophisticated in the coming version, the new powertrain seeks to maintain the performance status quo while increasing efficiency and drive-ability. A new 2.4litre version of the FA24 horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine conserves fuel use through the fitting of an electronic wastegate for the turbocharger. Peak power and outputs are up on the previous WRX and expected to be around 202kW (271bhp) at 5600rpm and 350Nm of driving force generated at 2500rpm.
New Zealand specifications and pricing has yet to be announced for the MY2022 WRX but with the production constraints imposed by the global computer chip shortage, Wallis Dumper recommends that those keen on buying one place their orders well ahead of the second-quarter-2022 arrival of the cars.
“The issue with componentry might haunt us all in the car industry for a while, and the WRX won’t be immune from that. Having said that, Subaru Corporation of Japan recognise New Zealand as a special place. We sell more Subarus in New Zealand than they do in the UK," says Wallis.
“So, if we have firm customer orders, we know the factory will really take notice of that. Customers can register their interest on subaru.co.nz to keep in the loop for more information that will be released in the coming months. We will strive to get as many WRXs as we can in 2022."
“But rest assured, I’m having one!”
To find out more visit Subaru New Zealand's website.