2022 Subaru WRX GT Review by Ben Lewis

We recently tested the all-new 2022 Subaru WRX Limited. With a 6-speed manual, and a load of improvements in every way, we loved it. So, when Subaru offered us the chance to drive the new upscale WRX GT model, we said yes in a heartbeat.

Well, make that 2 heartbeats – because we know that the GT comes exclusively with what Subie calls their automatic SPT (Sport Performance Transmission) is really a CVT (continuously variable transmission). In general, CVT’s are not much fun – even for an automatic, but since we’d been impressed with the CVT in the Subaru Ascent, we thought we’d give them the benefit of the doubt.

So, are we still in love with the new WRX, or has the GT model tamed it become just, ok? Let’s find out.

You Look Familiar

From the outside, you would be hard pressed to tell the Limited model we tested before vs. the GT. We’ve heard some mixed opinions about the styling of the new model, and we think a lot of it is the contrasting black trim. We’ve seen them painted, and they look very similar to the previous model.

We like the new look though, and while it has some sleekness to it, Subaru still lets form follow function – this is a car that looks built to win rallies first, beauty contests second. Although we think that the seriousness gives it a very credible, tough look.

In front, part and parcel of that toughness includes a wide oval hood scoop, signature hexagonal grille, and angry-looking LED headlights. The lower grilles feature a blacked-out honeycomb fascia while a blacked out lower fascia and round LED fogs finish off the aggressive look.

The profile makes a larger statement, being 3 inches longer than the previous model, which also makes the line a little sleeker. We still love the bulgey fender flares with blacked out over fenders featuring cut-outs for added aero. The final tell-tale that this is the GT model comes from the wheels – while the design of the meaty 18-inch wheels is the same, you get a matte gray finish on the GT, vs. the more polished dark gray on the Limited. The matte looks a bit tougher if you ask us. 

The rear is a fitting a bold end to the design, with “volcanic magma” LED taillights, an integrated rear spoiler, prominent blacked-out lower fascia and two pair of round exhaust pipes poking out underneath. The finishing touch was our tester’s bold Ignition Red paint job which really helps show off the contrasting black trim. This is one tough looking sport sedan!

Home Improvement

While the GT is almost indistinguishable from the Limited on the outside, the interior is notably different.

Open the door and you are greeted by GT-exclusive Recaro front seats, trimmed in comfy Ultrasuede. We love these seats – even though there’s no adjustable lumbar support,  they are so well designed we didn’t feel a need to adjust. Another thing we liked, while these are supportive and designed for serious driving, getting in and out of them is not difficult.

Our recent test of the BMW M4 competition had fantastic sport seats but you had to do the Fosbury Flop to clear the lower seat bolsters. It was literally a pain.

While there is no better place to be in a WRX than the driver’s seat, those in back will have little to complain about, with plenty of room in back for two adults. The rear seats also split/fold to give plenty of room for longer or oversize items.

Other than the seats, the GT is a tad more upscale with the use of some Ultrasuede panels for a nicer vibe. Those well trained in Subaru parlance will notice the Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology gear on our GT – a suite of great safety tech that Subie is not making available on manual transmission models.

Other than those things, the interior is the spittin’ image of our Limited model, with a generous analog speedo and tach, with a handy digital driver info display in-between. Our favorite is the turbo boost gauge. 14 psi, anyone?

We’re also big fans of the upgraded info-tainment on the new WRX models, including on our uplevel trims, a massive 11.6-inch tablet style display with STARLINK multimedia plus, which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, Sirius XM and Rearview monitor – the usual suspects.

The big screen also gives you access to multi-media, climate control, app icons that can be moved around and more. A first on a Subaru, you can now split screen the display and see two types of information, such as navigation and audio at the same time. And let’s tip our hat to Subaru for supplying traditional volume and tuning knobs. Yay!

There’s other goodness at your fingertips, including a fat, leather-wrapped, D-shaped steering wheel with intuitive remote controls and paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, and pushbutton start. Higher trim levels like ours have a 504-watt, 11-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system that sounded superb. Just in case you get tired of listening to that wonderful flat-four Boxer engine under the hood!

Does the SPT (CVT) WRX Still Thrill?

Yes. Yes, it does. Ok there will always be haters on the CVT. (And on automatics on performance cars, to some degree). But you have to give credit to Subaru for not giving up.

The good vibes start with the same motor as the Limited, a new 2.4-liter, turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder, producing 271 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque – just a wee bit more than the previous model, but a wider torque curve and a quicker-responding turbo makes a noticeable improvement off the line.

We’re also happy that SPT hasn’t lost the rev-happy feel we loved in the manual transmission model. It goes from a deep, burbly idle to the redline with a hard pull and that unique sound only a Subie boxer engine makes.

And with the SPT in one of the Sport modes, it pops off the shifts extremely quickly, feeling more like VW’s super-fast DSG transmission than any CVT-based transmission has any right too. Downshifts are equally quick, and this is a transmission that will get you grinning and tapping those paddle shifters for the instant response and deep rush of torque from that beefy engine.   

With the SPT keeping things on the boil so well, it’s easy to enjoy the Subaru symmetrical all-wheel drive, helping to lay down that power and dive into corners. We even had the rare bit of rain here in SoCal and we were impressed how well the WRX serves up traction even in slick conditions.

One of the best reasons to plump for the GT model are the exclusive adaptive dampers with Comfort, Normal, and Sport settings. And there is a notable difference between the modes – Comfort is truly cushy, Normal is just about right for the daily slog, and when you don’t want to be hanging about, Sport is your choice. You even get to custom dial in the setting for the suspension, along with engine and AWD response to custom tailor your performance.

How Many Grand for Grand Touring?

OK, this is the top of the line, and with all the goodies including the Recaro seats, adaptive dampers, and EyeSight Driver Assist, you’ll have to pony up.

The base WRX model starts at just $29,605, with 271 horsepower, Symmetrical AWD and a beautifully balanced chassis, it’s a stone-cold performance bargain. Up the ladder, our Limited tester came in at $36,495.

For the top-of-the-line GT you’ll be making a big jump to $41,895. Adding in $995 for destination we rang the bell at $42,890.

At that price, the competition can jump up as well, with high-priced fare like VW’s 315-hp, AWD Golf R coming in at a bit more at $44,290. We also loved our recent Audi A3 Quattro at $42,490. While its 201 horsepower is a bit of a deficit, it’s overall quality, design and Audi-ness makes it a very tempting competitor.  

We came away very impressed with the 2022 Subaru WRX GT. Bringing all the joy of the new WRX with added heapings of comfort, upgraded gear and a new SPT automatic that’s worthy of the WRX badge.

Taking the drive to new levels, the 2022 Subaru WRX GT is a perfect blend of WRX rowdiness with European Grand Touring manners!








Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.

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