The Subaru WRX S4 is a collection of odd decisions; will its quirkiness secure it a place in the compact sedan market or will it wither and die like the Evo?by Dim Angelov, on LISTEN 04:11
With the death of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, many started to fat-shame the Subaru STI. With the latest generation recently unveiled, many hope that the Japanese, rally-inspired sedan will redeem itself. And while officially, a full-on STI model is yet to arrive, the recently unveiled, Japan-only WRX S4, is a good sign that this may happen soon.
2022 Subaru WRX S4
The Japanese Subaru WRX S4 debuted about a month after the U.S.-spec WRX, which was met with mixed reviews. While the new 2.4-liter, turbocharged flat-four has only three horsepower more than the outgoing model (271 vs 268), it introduces adaptive suspension for the first time, in the model.
Visually, the JDM WRX S4 is almost identical to the U.S.-spec version. At the front, the JDM car does not have reflectors, while at the rear, we see an S4 badge. More importantly, we also see an STI badge, on the left side of the tailgate. There’s also a rear wiper - something the U.S. version lacks.
There are four available trim levels for the Subaru WRX S4 – GT-H, GT-H EX, STI Sport R, and STI Sport R EX. But, just because you see the Subaru Technica International abbreviation does not mean that this is a full-on STI version. Although the STI Sport R trims offer a bit more sportiness, it is limited to the Recaro sport seats, with Ultra Suede upholstery, leather patches throughout the interior, carbon trim pieces, and aluminum pedals.
As for the engine, it packs the same 271 horsepower, as the U.S.-spec model. However, peak torque is up to 276.6 pound-feet (375 Nm), compared to the U.S. model’s 257.3 pound-feet (350 Nm).
Subaru sure knows how to get our hopes up and then smash them to pieces. If that wasn’t enough, the JDM, WRX S4 will be offered exclusively with a CVT gearbox that has an eight-speed manual mode. For once, the U.S. market actually got the better version of the car.
More shocking revelations come in the form of the curb weight figure – 3,527 pounds (1,600 kg). So much for lightweight. In true Subaru tradition, the STI S4 comes, as standard, with the company’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system with active torque vectoring.
STI-badged models will feature a drive-mode select switch, in addition to an 11.6-inch infotainment screen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. GT-H is the base trim and stands out with an analog gauge cluster and a smaller air-condition screen. Standard equipment also includes the latest EyeSight X driving assist suite, which utilizes an array of sensors and a camera on the center console, facing the driver.
The Subaru WRX S4 is already on sale, in Japan, with a starting price of ¥4,004,000 ($34,710), for the base GT-H model, all the way to ¥4,774,000 ($41,385) for the flagship STI Sport R EX. Subaru has decided to add an exclusivity aspect to the WRX S4, by producing only 500 units per year.
If there was any doubt that Subaru has been growing fat, laying on its rally heritage from the past, the 2022 WRX S4 puts them to rest. It’s heavier, not quicker, and doesn’t come with a proper, six-speed manual. Subaru’s global platform may offer more torsional rigidity, but does it really matter if the package is not complete? Hopefully, a true STI version will be able to redeem Subaru, when it finally arrives.