New sport sedan is upping the ante
It took a while, but we’ve finally caught our first glimpse at the upcoming Subaru WRX, undergoing testing in Michigan.
Although unadorned by Subie’s usual aero bits and despite the dazzling camouflage, there’s no mistaking that telltale hood scoop.
This camouflaged tester is our first look at the long-awaited replacement for the handsome (but ageing) fourth-generation ‘VA’. First teased as 2017’s Viziv Performance Concept, a new model has been expected to appear for the model year 2022.
While these lines don’t suggest quite the same drama as the Viziv, we can discern a noteworthy new direction for this next generation. Most prominent is the vertically-enlarged grille, from which sharp strakes point out into gently cat-eyed headlights. Grille width is matched by a flared lower intake. The side profile seems unremarkable, excepting a steeper beltline rake that ought to bolster safety but cost drivers some precious visibility.
It’s been seven years since the current car hit dealer lots, but in fairness to Subaru, this hasn’t been an insignificant undertaking. The new WRX is to be built on the new Subaru Global Platform, growing its exterior dimensions but also making this niche model more palatable for Subaru to produce in comparatively limited numbers. A dedicated platform might sound preferable to the purists, but this switch should help control costs, not to mention the perks of probable parts compatibility and its benefits to the car’s secondhand enthusiast longevity.
The new car’s powertrain is still anybody’s guess, but rumours suggest the current 2.0L could be replaced by a new variant of the hulking Ascent’s 2.4L FA24 mated to a proper six-speed manual transmission (or CVT for the gridlock-inclined). With the encouragement of a turbo and some engineering cleverness, we’re expecting this unconfirmed four-cylinder boxer might be capable of climbing up toward 400 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque. That’s 90 more than the current STi’s 310 hp!
The Model 3 is a noteworthy benchmark to see. The WRX, with its boxer engine’s low center-of-gravity and rally history, has traditionally been more focused on driving experience and dynamics than on outright speed.
The WRX serves as a practical enthusiast’s car, so certain comforts and reassurances are expected. Naturally, buyers should see up-to-date tech inside and out. Subaru’s successful EyeSight driver-assist suite is a standout here, with traffic monitoring, dynamic cruise control, lane-departure warning, and pre-collision emergency braking. Subaru claims that this system has reduced rates of rear-end crashes causing injury by 85 percent among equipped vehicles, so good marks for safety and practicality there.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but it seems safe to count on a minor increase from the 2021 WRX’s CDN$29,995 base price. The WRX is loved equally for its pedigree and its accessibility, so perhaps if we cross our fingers hard enough Subaru will keep something at that sweet sub-$30k price point.