2022 Subaru WRX Sportswagon review – GT and tS (video)

Brett Davis

Forget the WRX nameplate for a minute. This is the new Subaru Sportswagon. It’s powered by a strong 2.4-litre turbo flat-four engine, connected to a segment-leading all-wheel drive system. There’s also some very advanced safety tech on board and Subaru’s renowned sense of utility and practicality.

See, if you forget the WRX name it suddenly becomes an interesting, unique and attractive package, doesn’t it? Hang on, didn’t Subaru Australia already try this with the Levorg? It sure did. And in fact this new generation is still called the Levorg in some regions. Our guess is the local arm conducted some market research and found the Levorg name off-putting to the majority of participants, so it switched to the famed WRX nomenclature.

The new WRX Sportswagon is available in three trims levels, spanning from the base, the GT, and the top tS which has been breathed on by the STI department. We guess the performance division has a bit of time on its hands now since the next-gen WRX STI project was cancelled. According to leaked documents found in 2020, a new STI was scheduled to go into production in the third quarter of this year. Pity.

For this review we’re looking at the GT and tS variants, with our usual performance tests conducted on the GT mainly because it is the lighter weight variant of the two – by 6kg.

Prices start from $55,490 and $57,990, respectively. The base model starts from $49,990, but we think the upper models actually represent better value when you factor in all of the inclusions for what is really not that much extra in cost. (All prices exclude on-road costs.)

2022 Subaru WRX Sportswagon GT – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 2.4-litre turbo flat four-cylinder
Output: 202kW@5600rpm / 350Nm@2000-5200rpm
Transmission: CVT auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive, variable torque split
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.5, 225/45
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1607kg
Power-to-weight: 7.95:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 8.5L/100km
Economy during test: 9.0L/100km[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Fuel capacity/Type: 63L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 23.76kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.53 seconds*
0-100km/h: 6.91 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.43 seconds*
1/4 mile: 14.99 seconds at 157.9km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.611g*
100-0km/h braking: 2.91 seconds at 37.30 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.141g*
Decibel at idle: 44*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 83*
Priced from: $55,490[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day, based on the GT variant. Factory claims may be different

2022 Subaru WRX Sportswagon GT & tS – THE PACKAGE

Firstly, this is an all-new model and not merely a facelift. It’s based on the Subaru Global Platform just like the latest WRX sedan, and with that comes various improvements in rigidity, space efficiency, suspension geometry and safety. The centre of gravity is also lower, helping with handling and stability.

The new chassis also supports a brand new styling package, denoted by Subaru’s C-shaped headlights and taillights, and pointed and more edgy panel contours and corners. In our opinion, it’s this wagon body that needs the black plastic trimmings and wheel arch moulds, not the new sedan. We think it would look quite rugged and adventurous if it had the off-road-inspired garnishes here instead.

We all love a good wagon though, so maybe Subaru wanted to stick with a traditional format to keep the conventional station wagon body style alive. Even so, the Sportswagon offers 5mm of additional ground clearance over the sedan (at 140mm), and the wheelbase is 5mm shorter. The track widths are also narrower on the wagon by 10mm at the front and 25mm at the back.

Going for the GT variant gets you some unique 18-inch, twin 5-spoke alloy wheels with black inner spokes. They’re wrapped in 225/45 Yokohama BluEarth GT tyres, which are described by the company as offering all-round performance. Stepping up to the tS adds 10-spoke 18-inch wheels with the same tyres.

You’ve got to love Subaru’s extensive approach to in-car practicality. This cabin is just so approachable and ready to travel. The big new touch-screen is a bit cumbersome in some areas, but all-in-all the sheer level of standard features and creature comforts is outstanding. Especially for this price point. The screen offers lots of different adjustment settings, too, including for the on-board active safety features.

Speaking of which, the GT and tS come with the full suite of driver monitoring and vision assist technologies offered by Subaru. Some of the highlights include special monitors for facial recognition. The system can be a bit over-the-top in our opinion, as it often flashes up a warning when you glance at the touch-screen for a second, or even if you yawn. There’s also a front-view and side-view monitor, lane-management with steering assist, and rear cross-traffic alert as standard on the GT and tS.

The big sports seats in the front are really comfortable, with plenty of adjustment, including from the steering column, making it easy to find a natural driving position. You’ll find plenty of storage spots around the console and lower dash handy, along with big door pockets.

In the back you’ve got good legroom, and it’s great to see climate vents and twin charging ports. The GT even comes with heated outer seats for that extra layer of touring support. Compared with its closest rivals, there aren’t many back seats that are as accommodating as this.

Boot space is of course very good. This is a wagon, after all. The loading height is quite low, allowing you to slide objects straight on in. The area is also impressively wide. You can flip down the rear seats from the back, which is very handy. With integrated hooks on the wall for shopping, and storage tubs in the sides, it is as practical as it gets. Under the floor is a slightly narrower steel spare wheel. It’s not as nice as having a full-size alloy, but at least it’s not one of those annoying little space-savers.

2022 Subaru WRX Sportswagon GT & tS – THE DRIVE

Under the bonnet is the same new 2.4 turbo as found in the latest WRX sedan. It produces a tiny bit more power than the old 2.0-litre turbo, and, disappointingly, the same torque level. Following our initial tests during the media launch event, we had a bit more time with the car and managed to find more respectable 0-100km/h figures.

However, the best we scored, according to our Vbox Sport, was 6.91 seconds. That’s not what we’d call quick. It’s at the upper end of where front-wheel drive hot hatches are these days. In fact, some can slash this time by around a second. Considering this has the advantage of all-wheel drive, we think it is not good enough. Especially for the WRX nameplate.

Perhaps more disappointing is the official fuel consumption average of 8.5L/100km. That’s only just a tad better than the old Levorg 2.0-litre turbo, which was rated at 8.7L/100km. In this modern age we’d expect a significant evolution. Emissions are improved though, from 201g/km to 192g/km.

We have to hand it to Subaru for creating a relatively light weight product, particularly one that has to haul around AWD. The GT is stamped at 1607kg (tare), while the tS weighs 1613kg. These figures explain the car’s agile feel. The steering also has that chunky mechanical feel that Subarus are known for, with good levels of feedback provided at all times.

We’re not convinced on the ride quality in the GT. It does crash around a bit. Going for the tS is a smart move though as it showcases adaptive dampers. These are a huge improvement over the standard setup, and you can mix and match different settings with other adjustment areas of the car.

During our test we took the tS for a road trip down to the snow. Really, it’s the perfect car for that kind of thing. All-wheel drive not only provides excellent highway stability, in all weather, the renowned running gear means you shouldn’t have to worry about fitting snow chains if the conditions turn bad.

2022 Subaru WRX Sportswagon GT & tS – THE VIDEO

2022 Subaru WRX Sportswagon GT & tS – THE VERDICT

Subaru says the typical buying demographic is older than before, so it has built the new model to cater for that direction. And as far as we can tell, yes, this new model is indeed a more matured and intelligent proposition than any previous WRX. It is significantly safer, boasting a range of highly-advanced safety technologies while also showcasing fancy new digital interfaces.

But in that transition we feel it has lost some of its roots and heritage. It’s only marginally more powerful yet offers the same torque. It is also a lot more sensible, emitting an uninteresting soundtrack while offering a driving character not too dissimilar to the regular Impreza hatchback.

However, as we suggested at the start of this review, if you look at this as a practical and powerful sporty wagon – without the WRX name – with the versatility of all-wheel drive, then it does sit in the market as a tempting option.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– All-weather grip and on-road security, great for road trips
– 2.4 turbo mightn’t be as quick as it should be but it is effortless in normal conditions
– Big and versatile interior for this class
– Adaptive dampers on tS grade
– Advanced safety tech
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– CVT auto ruins performance/excitement potential
– Lacks traditional WRX character – a bit boring now?
– Advanced safety tech can be overwhelming and intrusive[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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