Cars and Trucks

How 2022 Subaru WRX Compares with VW’s Hot Hatches

  • The new Subaru WRX is here, and we’re comparing it to the VW Golf GTI and Golf R.
  • The WRX is available only as a sedan, and the GTI and Golf R are both hatchbacks.
  • The WRX fits in between the GTI and Golf R in terms of power, and the upcoming WRX STI will likely surpass both the VWs in that regard.

    Now that Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and many others have dropped out of the sport-compact segment, Subaru and Volkswagen are among the few automakers still burning the affordable performance flame. And there’s a lot of new stuff to digest for the 2022 model year, as Subaru has just debuted a new WRX and VW is bringing over the new Mk 8 Golf GTI and Golf R hot hatchbacks.

    Sure, there are other options in this space such as Hyundai’s N versions of the Veloster and Elantra, and the upcoming performance versions of the latest Honda Civic. But we thought we’d pit the Subaru and VW’s specs up against each other, as these models are natural rivals despite some key differences.

    Power Output

    The 2022 WRX has a new turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four engine that makes 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That fits neatly in between the two VW models, which both have a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four—the version in the GTI makes 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the uprated Golf R’s engine has 315 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque.

    Subaru

    2022 volkswagen golf r

    Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

    Transmissions

    Fortunately for enthusiasts, all three of these vehicles come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. But they differ in their automatic-transmission offerings. While the VW’s both have a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, the WRX has a less appealing continuously variable automatic as an option. Subaru does say that it has made improvements to this transmission for 2022, calling it the Subaru Performance Transmission, but we’ll have to wait until we try it out for ourselves to see how it performs.

    AWD vs. FWD

    Subaru is known for its rallying prowess and all-wheel-drive systems, so obviously the latest WRX continues with standard AWD across the board. VW offers all-wheel drive too, but only in the more powerful and more expensive Golf R. The Golf GTI comes only with front-wheel drive, as it always has.

    Sedan or Hatchback

    While many have been clamoring for the return of the WRX hatchback, Subaru hasn’t given any indication that the latest model will be offered in anything other than the four-door sedan bodystyle you see here. It has 13 cubic feet of trunk space and the rear seats fold in a 60/40 arrangement.

    2022 subaru wrx gt

    Subaru

    2022 volkswagen golf gti

    Volkswagen

    The Golf GTI is perhaps the quintessential hot hatchback, and it shares its four-door hatch body with the Golf R as well. The two-door Golf disappeared from the U.S. market years ago. If you desire a similar package with a trunk, there’s always the 228-hp Jetta GLI, which is mechanically similar to the GTI but features a four-door sedan body.

    Tire Options

    Subaru says that the WRX comes standard with summer tires whether you opt for the standard 17-inch or optional 18-inch wheels. The Golf GTI comes standard with 18-inch wheels and all-season tires, with larger 19-inch wheels and summer tires available on the top Autobahn trim level. The Golf R has 19-inch wheels and summer tires as standard equipment.

    Interior Features

    The centerpiece of the WRX’s new interior is a large 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Recaro front seats are optional on the new GT trim level, and an upgraded Harman Kardon audio system is optional as well.

    2022 subaru wrx gt interior dash

    Subaru

    2022 volkswagen golf gti

    Volkswagen

    The GTI comes standard with an 8.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster display. A larger 10.0-inch infotainment display is available on the GTI’s higher trim levels and standard on the Golf R. Other options for the GTI include a Harman Kardon audio system, cooled front seats, and leather upholstery. The Golf R only comes in a single fully loaded trim level, with buyers only choosing the exterior color and either a manual or automatic transmission.

    Pricing

    Subaru has yet to reveal a price for the new 2022 WRX, but we expect it to be somewhat close to the GTI’s $30,540 starting price. The Golf R is significantly more expensive, starting at $44,640. Subaru will eventually roll out a more powerful WRX STI variant with performance upgrades, and that model is likely to be priced in a similar range as the Golf R.

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