Subaru WRX Manual vs Automatic Comparison

After the looks, the most controversial part of the 2022 Subaru WRX reveal was its automatic transmission.

It’s not that a self-shifting WRX didn’t already exist: the last-generation model had a CVT, too. But for this one, Subaru wants to put space between its iconic sport compact and the image of a droning econo ‘box. So say goodbye to see-vee-tee, hello ess-pea-tea, or Subaru Performance Transmission. It’s quicker now, and more involving, at least according to Subaru.

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to put that to the test. In our latest inter-brand comparison, managing editor Mike Schlee and I spent a week with both versions of the WRX to see just how well the new SPT lives up to its name. Not only that, does the six-speed keep the WRX magic alive? It’s time to find out.

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2022 Subaru WRX Review: First Drive

Cresting the hill I did a quick double take at what appeared to be an angry, moss-covered boulder on tip-toes rising up in front of my grill.

The gravel roads through Frontenac county are a veritable breeding ground for Ontario snapping turtles, and this behemoth appeared to have been around since prehistoric times. 

Hitting one would put a considerable dent in my karma, not to mention the undercarriage of the Subaru I was driving.  Slamming the shifter into second and counter steering to the right, I blipped the throttle and the vehicle rotated left around the turtle with inches to spare. There aren’t many cars that could successfully attempt such a maneuver without plowing straight into the swamp, but the WRX’s twenty years on the world’s rally stages can make ordinary drivers feel like champions.

The WRX has been around since 1992, and arrived in North America ten years later. Previously a trim level of the Impreza, the WRX became a standalone model in 2015. The Impreza went on to become the first recipient of Subaru’s new Global Platform (SPG) and won accolades for its terrific handling and improved quality– which left WRX fans wondering why Subaru’s flagship performance car was being overlooked.  

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Detailed Specs

Price / $29,605 - $42,395
Engine / 2.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder
Power / 271 hp
Torque / 258 lb-ft
Drivetrain / AWD
Transmission / 6MT / AWD
Fuel Economy (city/hwy) / 19 mpg / 25-26 mpg
Cargo Capacity / 12.5 cu ft

Our Final Verdict

Subaru WRX

3.7
Performance 8.0
Features 7.0
Comfort 7.0
Quality & Styling 6.0
Value 9.0