After decades of spitting fire and spraying gravel on the world’s rally stages, or at least looking the part on the street, Subaru WRX earned a few gray hairs. Now in its fifth generation after a redesign for the 2022 model year, Subaru the proto-rally car has reached middle age, dressed in office clothes and reached a new level of sophistication. Nowhere is this more evident than in the range-topping automatic-only WRX GT.
The WRX has now been available with an automatic transmission for many years, and the latest model is a CVT with eight simulated gears The option ranges from $1,850 to $2,250 on all trims, including the $30,600 base car. Subaru still ties a six-speed manual to the 271-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The new fully equipped GT model, however, is exclusively a two-pedal model that will set you back $43,390. For WRX. That’s $5,220 more than the old STI’s 310-hp starting point. future EV performance based on another platform). To be fair, Volkswagen GTI can be had for over $40k, so an affordable sport compact is kind of a nebulous concept these days.
Subaru’s global platform feels stiff and well-balanced, and the WRX’s precise steering delivers the direct turn-in response you want when you’re zipping down goat trails at highly questionable speeds. It’s a car built to corner with minimal effort, and its standard all-wheel drive system helps you find it on just about any surface. The reasonable 72 decibels of wind and tire noise we recorded in the GT’s cabin at 70 mph is about average for a sport compact. While its 28 mpg result on our 75 mph highway route is less than competitive, it is 3 mpg better than the automatic EPA estimate and the same as manual limited model we tested earlier reached
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the automatic WRX is the extra equipment it unlocks over the manual. Opt for the CVT and you get the ability to customize the transmission’s response through Intelligent, Sport and Sport # settings. The GT goes even further by adding universal drive modes (Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual) which, via the 11.6-inch central touchscreen, allow you to adjust the desired combination of drive power, steering weight, front and rear motion. torque balance of the all-wheel drive system and ride stiffness from GT-exclusive adaptive dampers. Also included: a 504-watt 11-speaker stereo system, body-hugging Recaro sport seats with micro-suede upholstery and red contrast stitching, and a Subaru raft with EyeSight driver assistance technologywhich is not available with the manual.
All this kit helped push our test car’s curb weight to 3,552 pounds, about 151 pounds more than the aforementioned manual version. However, despite being the more polished of the WRX, the GT is also the faster of the two in the real world. While the CVT-equipped car took nearly a second longer to hit 30 mph, its 60 mph time of 5.4 seconds is 0.1 second faster, largely due to , that it takes two gear shifts to reach this mark. The GT’s rolling acceleration from 5 to 60 mph, 30 to 50 mph, and 50 to 70 mph is also significantly faster. It’s only at higher speeds that the gearshift sticks its legs out, blasting through the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds to the GT’s 14.1 seconds, though both hit 101 mph.
As both models ride on the same 18-inch Dunlop SP Sport Maxx summer tires, the GT’s other speed figures are what you’d expect from a car with the extra mass. Its 0.93 g pad grip is 0.02 g less than the manual limited, and its stops from 70 mph and 100 mph are 159 and 326 feet, respectively—both a few feet longer. In the larger sport-compact arena, the performance of today’s WRX puts it close to the lightweight 241-horsepower GTI, but it falls short of sharper rivals that approach or exceed the 300-hp mark, such as Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai Elantra N, Toyota GR Corollaand VW Golf R.
Still, with the GT, the WRX feels more content than ever to do its thing. Put its drivetrain settings back to tame and it rides in high comfort, albeit with marginally better ride compliance than a well-tuned stock car provides. And except for the CVT’s inherent softness at throttle angle, especially at stop-and-go speeds, its step-through gears mostly eliminate engine hum. The CVT is never going to be as much fun as a stick—this autobox “downshifts” on its own at redline in every scenario except attacking the drag strip, where its fastest runs keep the needle at 6,100 rpm—but it helps give The GT is the kind of performance found in some premium sports sedans.
But from the aluminum hood hovering on the highway to the lack of a heated steering wheel and rear climate control vents, the WRX quickly reminds you of its economy car roots. We’d wager that most Subaru sedan buyers tempted by the GT’s features will be happier spending a lot less on the 260-horsepower turbo Heritage. While upgrades have made the latest WRX’s automatic transmission a compelling option for drivers who care more about convenience than interaction, this expensive GT model makes us miss the simpler days of the WRX’s youth.
2022 Subaru WRX GT
Vehicle type: front engine, four-wheel drive, 5-seat, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $43,390 / $43,390
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat 4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 146 inches32387 cm3
Power: 271 horsepower at 5600 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm
Suspension Front/Front: Strut/Multilink
Brakes, front/rear: 12.4-inch ventilated disc/11.8-inch ventilated disc
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 A
Wheelbase: 105.2 inches
Length: 183.8 inches
Width: 71.9 inches
Height: 57.8 inches
Passenger volume: 98 feet3
Trunk volume: 13 feet3
Curb weight: 3,552 lbs
C/D EXAMINATION RESULTS
60 mph: 5.4 sec
100 mph: 13.6 sec
1/4 mile: 14.1 seconds at 101 mph
130 mph: 28.2 sec
The results above are omitted 1-foot sweep 0.3 sec.
Start from 5–60 mph: 6.3 sec
Top Gear, 30–50mph: 3.3s
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.1 sec
Top speed (gov ltd): 134 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 159 feet
Braking, 100–0 mph: 326 feet
Road grip, 300-foot pad: 0.93g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 20 mpg
Highway driving at 75 mph: 28 mpg
Highway distance at 75 mph: 460 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 21/19/25 mpg
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