2022 subaru wrx sti front lip

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Subaru sti front lip The Buyer’s Guide

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Delivery Delays and Competitors

Throughout the course of the day, I found myself comparing the new WRX mainly to two cars: a 2001 Audi TT that I sold four years ago and the pre-production Elantra N that Hyundai let me test at Sonoma Raceway last month.

When new, that TT competed tangentially with the very first US-market WRXs despite having two fewer doors. The car sported a similar driveline to the Subaru, with a 225-horsepower inline-four (two horsepower shy of the 2002 WRX) mounted ahead of the front axle and driving all four wheels through a six-speed stick shift.

With an ECU tune and a beefier rear sway bar, my Audi ended up providing more fun than the sum of its parts might suggest—big boost building, a precise short-ratio shifter, moderate body roll preceding any breakouts. The new WRX will compete against the TT’s spiritual successors, the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R and GTIboth of which will be stiff competition for the WRX and the upcoming STI.

Undoubtedly the most controversial style element on the new WRX is its plastic fender flares. They grew on you over time, but as with many cars with contrasting body cladding, the WRX is very color-dependent, and some hues work better than others. Michael Van Runkle

The Elantra Nmeanwhile, sits another step up the refinement ladder with the same power, an immaculate six-speed and an intuitive touchscreen setup featuring even more of the customizable drive modes that the delayed WRX GT will offer—albeit in a front-wheel-drive car .

Other than the lack of all-wheel-drive traction, the Hyundai delivers smiles in spades when compared to the WRX, in a package that looks better and will likely cost around the same as a WRX Limited.

For commuters and road-trippers, the new WRX will perform perfectly. And there’s a good chance Subaru expects most hardcore drivers to either wait and satisfy their corner-shredding needs with the higher-powered STI. That, or do what 20 years of fanboys have done: buy a lower-trim WRX and dial it in with an aftermarket ECU tune, cat-back exhaust, lowering springs and a subwoofer.

That wait might end up playing a significant role in early WRX sales. Production for manual cars should begin in January of 2022, with the first automatics rolling off the line in February.

Subaru hinted at starting stickers only slightly higher than the current model—which, along with the rest of the model lineup, has been selling like hotcakes throughout the pandemic. Given that the entire Subaru sales network in America currently sits on just five days of inventory, eager WRX buyers may face a challenge getting one once deliveries commence in early Spring.