The Subaru WRX has been a chameleon in the market over the last decade. It’s shapeshifted its way through generations ever since the brand left the World Rally Championship back in 2008 at the height of the GFC. Over the years we’ve been treated to special editions (how delicious was that RS40), hatchbacks, and wagons as I have here. However, for their latest generation WRX lineup, Subaru seems to have gone back to square one with a softer, albeit more ‘approachable’ vehicle before the inevitable electrification generation kicks in.
Once a p-platers dream, my memories of the three letters W R X will forever be ingrained with the flame-spitting sideways action of Carlos Sainz and Colin McCrae, not the least bit the impression they left on me as a 10-year-old kid as my dad watched stage highlights every weekend. I think it was the jumps that got me hooked at such a young age, but I never transitioned to a full-time vaping flat-cap wearer.
Instead, I transitioned to a boring old fart (at 25 years young) who prefers camping, exploring, and hiking more than I do 0-100km/h sprints at a set of traffic lights on Church St, Parramatta. I like to think of myself as the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon, so I jumped behind the wheel of one to test the theory.
2022 Subaru WRX Wagon at a Glance
|High Point||Low Point||Verdict|
|Maybe the most well-rounded car Subaru has ever produced. Adaptive suspension is a standout, the drive modes are very customisable, and the overall cabin appointments are big in technology and space.||Higher spec variants like the ‘tS’ are pricey. Fuel consumption around town isn’t great (8-9l/100km) and the overall speed and acceleration have fallen behind the market.||If you can rewire your enthusiast’s brain and appreciate the WRX Wagon for what is… not a rally car, it’s one of the best cars Subaru has made in the last decade. It ticks the boxes on pretty much every level, it’s just a little pricey.|
Today’s lineup is far removed from the knife-edged WRC cars of yesteryear, and you would assume the CVT automatic Subaru WRX Wagon with a mere 202kW of power wouldn’t be much to get excited about. You’d be wrong, but it’ll take some getting used to.
You have to rewire your enthusiast’s brain to truly appreciate the WRX Wagon. The brand has removed certain ‘rally-inspired’ features from the WRX lineup for this year and no amount of finger-pointing will bring them back, so it’s best to judge the wagon as a blank canvas, not one with blue paint and gold wheels. In short, the STI badge is gone forever, and so are the front and rear limited-slip differentials, manual handbrake, and disconnecting rear diff for handbrake turns.
I prefer to think of the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon as a very good lifestyle vehicle with some oomph, not the other way around. To prove the point I headed to Coorongooba campground just outside of Lithgow, NSW, to spend the night in the wagon and take advantage of its 500-litres of cargo space. The drive would include a trip over the Blue Mountains, a dirt road with a short trip through some light mud, a low river crossing, and an overnight camp.
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Impressions of the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon
Our drive to the Coorongooba campground was about 3 hours (200km) and would encompass a number of different roads from highways to mountain passes and even some dirt. It’s the road I take most softroaders on to test their all-around credentials in a short period of time.
Stepping Inside the WRX Wagon
The first thing you’ll notice when you sit in the WRX Wagon is the sheer visibility. You don’t sit particularly high, but the dashboard is quite low and the greenhouse effect is amplified by the slanted front window and relatively short bonnet. It’s the first time you realise this isn’t a ‘sportscar’ but more a relaxed tourer. I particularly love the Ultra-suede seats in the ‘tS’ variant that I was testing, and the adornment of ‘STI’ badges all over the place, including the headrests, does add a premium touch.
After getting acquainted with the overall layout of the cabin your eyes are drawn to the 11.6-inch portrait screen that’s trickled down from the larger Subaru models, such as the Outback and Forester. The infotainment offers wired Apple Carplay and Android Auto, although AA isn’t optimised as takes up only one-third of the screen – disappointing.
Start driving and you’ll notice the trick Subaru EyeSight driver assistance and safety system working its magic. The system is probably the best on the market at this price point and takes advantage of two cameras mounted on the windscreen to help detect, minimise or even prevent collisions. It can even recognise pedestrians and cyclists and determine their distance, shape and speed of travel. Pretty impressive stuff.
I’ll also note here that the 6-speaker sound system found in our ‘tS’ model is rather impressive for a factory unit.
What’s the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon Like to Drive?
|2022 Subaru WRX Wagon Performance Figures|
|Engine||2.4-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder|
|Power||202kW @ 5600rpm|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 6.91-seconds (Unofficial).|
Heading onto the freeway to kick start our journey and a little squirt onto the on-ramp returns a rather enticing amount of acceleration. It’s never going to throw you back in your seat like most modern sports cars, but it’s enough for moving in and out of traffic. The CVT automatic gearbox makes its way through the gears efficiently, and if you want to have some fun, you can take advantage of the paddles on either side of the steering wheel to keep the engine in its happy place on boost.
Subaru doesn’t reveal the 0-100km/h times of the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon, but Performance Drives recently tested the car and achieved 0-100km/h in 6.91-seconds. Again, not particularly fast by today’s standards, but enough for daily duties.
I was shocked at how well the Subaru WRX Wagon rides around town and on the freeway. The adaptive ‘electric control’ dampers are maybe the biggest selling point of the whole car in my eyes. They’re seriously plush when you need them, but they can be firmed up to minimise body roll when you’re heading through a mountain pass.
It’s safe to say I worked my way through the drive modes as I made my way over the Blue Mountains, and you can customise everything from the Power Unit, to Steering, Suspension, AWD system, EyeSight, and even Climate Control for fuel-saving. The last leg of my journey included a run on some wet dirt road (including mud) and throwing the WRX into Sport AWD really helped reduce slippage. While it’s far from a ‘rally car’ the adaptive suspension loved life on the dirt, cushioning out holes and braking bumps.
Sadly, with emissions regulations forcing manufacturers to create mute vehicles, the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon exhaust sounds like a strangled cat. Gone is the addictive boxer rumble that you could only get in a Subaru, although it’s nothing a Catback aftermarket exhaust couldn’t fix.
Unpacking the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon
After arriving at our campground it was time to unpack the WRX Wagon. Subaru Australia offered me a car with the factory optioned Thule Vector M roof box (#SAT5018), cargo cage in the rear, and a number of other ‘adventure worthy’ accessories such as rubber mats, all of which are factory optioned – check them out here. Thanks to the extended wheelbase in the wagon, the boot space is a very generous 500 litres. Truth be told, if I didn’t use the roof box and instead packed our gear into the back seats I would’ve been fine, but the box could accommodate poles and wet gear if rain was on the horizon.
Our Verdict on the 2022 Subaru WRX Wagon
While the Subaru WRX Wagon might not be the ‘rally car’ wagon that I’d love it to be on paper, it might be one of the best cars the brand has produced if you look at the chalkboard facts alone.
It’s safe, accommodating in space, offers enough power, is very comfortable to travel long distances in, has plenty of technology, is customisable in any way you like, and is capable of taking on a few dirt roads while you’re at it. I’m not particularly in love with the CVT gearbox and the fuel consumption around town isn’t impressive, but the car ticks pretty much every other box.
Pricing starts at $55,251 AUD before on-road costs for the base model, but our ‘tS’ variant would run you closer to $63,651 AUD before on-road costs. Our particular loan car was optioned to the moon and as such would cost closer to $80,000 AUD by the time you drive it out of the showroom, but if you play your cards right and choose a select few options you could get away with a very well rounded 2022 WRX Wagon in ‘tS’ spec for around $70,000 AUD. For that kind of money, you’d be more than happy with your decision.
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