2022 Subaru WRX spied testing with Tesla Model 3

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SpiedBilde/Brian Williams

Subaru’s VA-gen WRX, which debuted in 2014 as the first WRX to split from the Impreza lineup, is inching toward retirement. In addition to the flood of special editions Subaru’s using to send off the 2014–21 cars, we now have our first definitive sign that the 2022 model is actually here—or, at least, on its way.

New Subaru WRX spy front three-quarter
SpiedBilde/Brian Williams

Our spy photographer snagged some shots of a ’22 WRX test mule, accompanied by a Tesla Model 3, driving outside Ann Arbor, Michigan. We have no reason to believe Subaru’s sporty compact is ditching boxers for batteries, but the presence of the EV could suggest that Subaru sees the Model 3 as a potential competitor to the WRX. Both are performance-oriented sedans that include with all-wheel drive, a combination that puts these vehicles in scare company with the VW Golf R and Mini’s John Cooper Works Clubman All4.

Of course, the Tesla and Subie are otherwise vastly dissimilar machines. One is sleek, all-electric, and minimalist, while the other is (at least traditionally) rowdy, bland-looking, and a little unrefined. The camo’d 2022 WRX prototype in these shots appears to fall short of the provocative styling suggested by its broad-shouldered concept predecessor, the Viziv Performance concept shown in ’17. (Longtime WRX fans will recall that the 2013 WRX concept car also promised more pizazz than its ’14 production counterpart revealed.)

To be fair, you’re almost certainly not looking at the next-gen WRX STI, which we’ll venture will retain its prominent wing. The functional hood scoop remains, the rear light signature looks to be a bit edgier, from what we can spot, and the bulbous lower rear fascia promises lots of textured black plastic. Look ever so carefully, and you can discern the contours of some wheel-wheel cladding reminiscent of the 2021 Crosstrek Sport’s. Happily, the quad exhaust remains.

What tune will the next-gen WRX sing? Subaru will stick with a turbocharged boxer-four, that’s certain; the real question is which one? It’s very possible we’ll see an updated version of the existing 2.0-liter turbo under the hood of the WRX. The STI demands a more aggressive setup, of course, and rumors are swirling that Subaru’s planning to tune the 2.4-liter turbo four (FA24) currently in the Ascent (and, recently, the Outback XT models) to 400 hp to fit the bill.

New Subaru WRX spy front three-quarter
SpiedBilde/Brian Williams

It’s certainly not the edgiest-looking import on the block—that honor belongs to the Civic Type R—but the WRX has a huge fan base, and the Subaru is surely mindful that it needs to do justice to the ’22 model. We eagerly await more details.

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