The new Subaru WRX range heralds a new performance era for the brand as it begins it journey towards full electrification with the all-new fully-electric Solterra SUV expected to arrive in 2023.

A pre-production Solterra is about to arrive in the country for evaluation purposes, ironically in the beginning of the winter sports season. 

Subaru New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper says customers are already asking dealers for an electric Subaru. He says three deposits from customers have already been taken, such is the pent up demand. 

“We are not afraid to launch the Solterra SUV, it will bring a whole lot of other opportunity to our business. Already 20% of new car sales in New Zealand are electrified and it’s only going to grow further,” he says.

And between the introduction of the WRX now and the Solterra in 2023, the Outback range will also get a performance upgrade in the form of the turbocharged high-performance Outback 2.4T in the fourth quarter of 2022 which will resonate with owners of the former Outback 3.6.

“We are on an EV journey but we do want to make the most out of the WRX which could possibly be the last high performance internal combustion engine (ICE) to be launched into the mass market in New Zealand,” Dumper says.

Dumper says the business is in a strong position but like many other brands Subaru of New Zealand can’t get enough cars to satisfy demand. He also notes that the Government’s Clean Car Standard will see distributors passing on price rises to customers as they have to pay emission fees on a sliding scale from January 1, 2023, to 2026.

He says the brand moved to a just in time system in 1996/1997 and stopped chasing volume sales in the New Zealand market which has held the brand in good stead, making dealers profitable and ensuring there was enough supply to meet demand.

But that system meant a lean stock holding, and while the brands dealers usually hold up to a month’s worth of stock, they are now down to one week according to Dumper.

Subaru dealers have presold 50 units of the WRX and the brand is waiting for more build slots to be allocated from a supply chain that is oversubscribed and struggling with component supply.

“We’ve had so much volatility in the market, two years ago when we launched new Forester and then new Outback we couldn’t get enough production to meet demand, when COVID came we thought there would be a crash in sales, however it is still not sorted,” Dumper says  

He says the problem will be ongoing for at least another twelve months.

“The horrible truth is that people are going to be disappointed, and while some brands have supply, many customers can’t just go down the road and buy another new car off the dealers yard,” Dumper says.

2022 Subaru WRX, the detail.

The fifth-generation Subaru WRX has two body styles – sedan and wagon – with two model variants for each: WRX 2.4T sedan Premium and WRX 2.4T tS and WRX GT wagon Premium and WRX GT wagon tS.

The new WRX GT wagon will stand as a model in its own right, with both the WRX 2.4T sedan and WRX GT wagon featuring unique specifications tailored to their respective audiences.

The all-new WRX 2.4T sedan also incorporates a number of performance-inspired exterior design influences including air outlets located on the trailing edges of the front wheel openings, side garnishes and a lip-style boot spoiler.

Like its predecessors, this latest-generation WRX features bold styling promising exciting driving; its aggressive appearance starting at its prominent hexagonal grille, spilling over the wide, low-set front bumper and flowing back into its bulging fenders.

Black body trims sport side garnishes on the sedan’s front and rear fenders and prominent side sill spoilers feature a hexagon-patterned aerodynamic texture designed to reduce air resistance.

Inside, the cabin features stylish black upholstery with red stitching and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. WRX 2.4T Premium and tS sedan are trimmed with Ultrasuede upholstery while the WRX GT Premium has leather and the WRX GT tS has Ultrasuede trim.

For the first time in its history, the WRX uses the new Subaru Global Platform which has been designed to both enhance the car’s responsiveness by enabling sharper handling and add comfort by reducing unpleasant road vibrations and shaking.  

It features full inner-frame construction for high body and chassis rigidity and gives the all-new WRX about 14 per cent more front lateral flexing rigidity and 28 per cent more torsional stiffness than its predecessor.

Under the bonnet a new, more powerful direct-injection, turbocharged 2.4-litre, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder Boxer engine delivers 202 kilowatts of power at 5,600rpm and 350 Newton metres of torque from 2,000 – 5,200rpm. Power is up five kilowatts over the outgoing model and while torque output remains the same, it is produced lower in the rev range, generating high torque from low engine speeds.