In a burgeoning age of electric vehicles, it’s comforting to know some of us out there still like it old-school. We’re talking about enthusiasm for rally-bred weapons like Subaru’s turbocharged WRX, the Mitsubishi Evolution series and Ford’s Focus RS. Sadly, neither the Mitsubishi nor Ford are still in production, and the Subaru is well into its twilight years.
However, there’s hope on the horizon for WRX fans; an all-new model is well under development, and the word is that it aims to retain its rally-bred heritage. But will it be as hardcore as it used to be? Let’s peel off the spy-shot camouflage to reveal what’s cooking for 2022.
Inspired by the 2017 VIZIV Performance concept, the redesigned WRX brings a sleek, yet staunch demeanor whilst sharing the same front doors, hood scoop and headlights as the new Levorg wagon. Frontal styling is aggressively dynamic, featuring “hawk eye” LED headlamps, a bold trapezoidal grille and angled wheel arches.
Subaru’s “Dynamic X Solid” design ethos is evident throughout the sculptured sheet metal surfacing, especially around the doors and rear haunches. The view from the back is much more muscular than any WRX before. It will sport quad exhausts, a large diffuser panel, triangular corner vents and C-clamp taillights connected by an illuminated strip across the trunk.
A Nicer Place To Be
Like other Subaru models launched recently, the next WRX sits on the company’s Subaru Global Platform which brings improved handling, safety and interior packaging benefits. The current car’s rather drab cabin also makes way for a much swankier layout, with design DNA and content plucked from the new Levorg wagon.
A massive 11.6-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen interface with very few physical knobs and buttons will greet occupants, as will a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and sports-themed Alcantara & leather trim.
Subaru’s new EyeSight X driver assist system will be available too. It uses 360-degree sensing via radars and cameras with highly-defined map data allowing for Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. As part of this package, it includes intersection assist in detecting frontal cross-traffic, emergency steering assist in helping maneuver around impending collisions and GPS-linked adaptive cruise control.
Water cooler conjecture suggests both the 2.0-litre FA20F and 2.5-litre EJ turbocharged units are to be replaced by one engine: a turbocharged 2.4-litre FA24F boxer-four. Used in the three-row Ascent SUV, Legacy and Outback, it produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Revisions to this engine will yield 300 horsepower in WRX trim, while the STI will get a healthy bump to almost 400 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque.
Bucking current automotive trends, we anticipate Subaru to again offer a six-speed manual transmission in conjunction with the Japanese marque’s well-regarded symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. Unfortunately, no luck for fans wanting a snappy dual-clutch or torque-converter automatic, as Subaru will again be offering their Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
What isn’t on the cards (and we’d love to be proven wrong) is any form of hybridization, whether it be a 48-volt mild hybrid, full hybrid or plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Without it, getting the WRX into markets such as Europe will be difficult due to ever-tightening CO2 emission rules and severe penalties for missed emissions targets.
Rivals & Reveal
Once upon a time, Mitsubishi’s Evo X was the one to beat, as was Ford’s more recently-axed Focus RS. So what offerings will the next WRX compete against now? Arguably and at least for the WRX, that answer lays in the form of Hyundai’s i30N, the Honda Civic Type-R and premium rivals like Volkswagen’s Golf R & GTI, Audi S3, Mercedes-AMG A 35 and BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe.
We anticipate an official reveal before Christmas, or early 2021 as an MY2022 offering. Expect pricing to start around $30,000 for the base WRX.
So, what do you think of the WRX’s new look? Share your views in the comments below.
Note: The predictive illustration was made by CarScoops’ artist Josh Byrnes and is in no way related to or endorsed by Subaru