CHATHAM, Mass. – The new 2022 Subaru WRX Premium is a raucous machine. The street-legal descendent of the Japanese company’s legendary rally champions comes packed with free-revving, loud power which begs you to attack roads which would give pause to a lesser car.

This fifth generation of the performance-oriented, Impreza-based four-door sedan is the first WRX built on Subaru’s global platform which provides a stiffer, safer and quieter foundation than its predecessor.

Global platform thoroughly upgrades WRX

The global platform brings a more rigid base – an increase of 28 percent in overall rigidity and 75 percent increase in suspension-mounting-point rigidity — for the new WRX as well as a lower center of gravity, all of which enhance handling prowess.

A longer suspension stroke increases vehicle stability and lateral grip on uneven surfaces. The rear stabilizer bar, now mounted directly to the body (versus the subframe), operates more efficiently and contributes to a roll rate reduction when cornering.

According to Subaru, the suspension is tuned for an engaging driving experience. Optimized front suspension geometry reduces mass offset of the front suspension, and a new dual-pinion electric power steering system separates the driver’s input shaft from the motor assist shaft. Together, these enhancements deliver a quicker response to driver inputs, improved accuracy, and a more natural steering feel.

The fully independent suspension pieces include MacPherson-type struts with internal rebound springs; aluminum lower L-arms with pillow ball mounts and bushings, coil springs and stabilizer bar up front and at the rear double wishbone with subframe, pillow ball bushings for lower lateral links, coil springs and stabilizer bar.

Stopping power comes via electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and four-channel / four-sensor anti-lock (ABS), brake assist and brake override (plus switch-activated electronic parking brake). Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes (12.4 inches up front with dual piston calipers and 11.4 inches and single piston caliper in the rear) are featured.

Aluminum-alloy 18×8.5-inch wheels in gray finish mounted with 245/40R18 97W summer performance tires transmit the upgraded power output to the street.

More go under the hood

The WRX features a new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Subaru BOXER® (they may have registered the name, but they share the boxer opposed-cylinder layout with Porsche) engine producing 271 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque.

A six-speed manual transmission sits behind the engine delivering the power, as is true of all Subaru models except the 2+2 BRZ sports coupe, through the Subaru Symmetrical All Wheel Drive with Active Torque Vectoring.

These varied ingredients combine to provide supreme driving enjoyment especially on challenging, curving roads like those on the Cape Cod Bay side of Truro (Massachusetts) as well as the roads leading from the hills above the Ocean in Wellfleet into the town center. 

Shifting is becoming a lost driving skill as fewer and fewer vehicles are offered to the American motorist with a manual gearbox; using the six-speed in the WRX brought back memories of my earlier days behind everything from hot hatchbacks to medium-sized sport sedans which once upon a time could be had with a manual.

Technology for those on the inside

The 2022 WRX’s ride, though improved over the previous generation’s, is still skewed towards handling over comfort. The chassis is stiffer than other Subaru models, but not uncomfortably so. WRX buyers will find the balance on the performance side, which is why they would choose this model in the first place.

Even with the weight being towards performance, Subaru included technological features which make the environment for the driver and passengers a pleasant place for a drive regardless of the speed.

The seats are comfortable, grippy (thankfully) and multi-position adjustable (along with an adjustable steering wheel so the driver can find just the right position to operate the WRX). A digital, dual-zone automatic climate-control system keeps the air at the right temperature while a robust sound system, the review model equipped with the optional Harman Kardon® 11-speaker, 504-Watt sound system ($1,875 along with a powered tilt/slide moonroof), can project the infotainment system’s output clearly over any of the driving noises.

The heart of the infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and SiriusXM satellite radio, is the 11.6-inch tablet-oriented touch screen in the center of the dash.

A value package for a performance car with true championship genes

The high-performance characteristics of the 2022 WRX Premium come with an added bonus – excellent fuel economy. We saw 29 miles per gallon during a week of hard driving, well above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s ratings of 22 mpg (19 city, 26 highway).

The price of entry into the WRX world of performance driving begins at $29,105, ranging up to a range-topping $41,895 for the WRX GT. The WRX Premium we tested had a $31,605 base price, $1,875 in options, $960 in destination and handling for an as-reviewed price of $34,440.

Couple the way it does not use a lot of gas with Subaru’s reputation for reliability and the WRX is a performance machine which will go the distance, returning years of smiles and driving enjoyment with very a reasonable investment.

Next week TBR Drives the Ford F-150 Raptor.