Practical magic: 2022 Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon review

a silver Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon on the road

Craig Duff

Posted July 25, 2022


Subaru’s performance wagon packs a poised balance between acceleration and amenity. The caveat is you need to buy the top-spec tS variant for true WRX handling.

The WRX badge has long been a synonym for go-fast motoring at a realistic price. The early versions were dubbed “boy-racer” vehicles because they were quick and affordable.

That approach has now evolved. The latest WRX machines … sedan and wagon … have far more creature comforts than their predecessors while still retaining the performance bias that ensures enthusiasts’ attention.

The Sportswagon epitomises this approach: a comfortable, well-appointed vehicle with great load space and a surefooted, swift nature that induces smiles on back roads.

It lacks the outright aggression of the WRX sedan and can only be had with a continuously variable transmission. Given the target market, that’s not a handicap, particularly as only the CVT-equipped versions pick up the full set of Subaru’s safety systems

What is less endearing is the fact buyers need to stump up for the most expensive tS version to get the full WRX experience.

On this page

The Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon costs around $64,000 on the road.
A less aggressive front-end look helps differentiate the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon from the sedan.
The Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon is known as a Levorg in other markets.

How much does the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon cost?

The list price is $57,990 plus on-road costs. For Melbourne buyers, the on-road impost is $63,704. That makes it the most expensive vehicle in the Subaru line-up, edging the WRX tS sedan by around $1000.

Lesser versions of the WRX Sportswagon start from $55,368 driveaway for those with a 3000 postcode, but they lack the adaptive shock absorbers that endow the tS variant with a much-improved cornering capability.

While the WRX sedan has a range of competitors, including hot hatches like the Hyundai i30 N, the wagon’s nearest rival is the Golf R wagon and that’s a $14,000 dearer proposition.

The WRX comes with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. The cost of keeping your car maintained over that period, by complying with the 12-month/15,000km service schedule, is $2365.74.

There are seven exterior colours to choose from and none of them will involve an extra hit to the purchase cost.

The only option pack is a styling deal valued at $3245 that adds a rear diffuser, roof spoiler and front bumper skirt.

Is the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon safe?

Despite launching in Australia in May, the WRX has yet to be tested by ANCAP. One of the quirks of the WRX line-up is the fact the manual gearbox can’t be paired with the full “EyeSight” suite of safety software.

That’s likely to result in a dual rating by ANCAP, with only those vehicles with the continuously variable transmission predicted to earn a five-star rating.

Fortunately for safety conscious Sportswagon buyers, all three versions are CVT-equipped, providing owners with autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, active lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with lane-centring and speed sign recognition and a driver-attention alert (it will chime if it detects the driver looking away from the road).

Eight airbags are on standby to deploy in the event the safety software and sensors can’t prevent a crash. The bonnet is now aluminium, not only to reduce weight but to improve the Subaru’s friendliness to pedestrians in the vulnerable road users test.

 

A portrait-style touchscreen elevates the Subaru WRX's interior.
The WRX logo is emblaxoned on the front headrests and tS versions feature artificial suede highlights on the upholstery.
The Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon's boot is an impressive 490 litres.

What’s the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon like inside?

The centrepiece of the WRX interior is an 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen connected to a 10-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard and there’s a digital radio with better-than-average reception, voice recognition and satellite navigation.

The climate control switchgear is separated from the infotainment display, meaning physical buttons rather than swiping through menus to adjust the temperature.

The heating function is satisfyingly quick to reach operating temperature on a cold start, something most drivers will appreciate at this time of the year.

The rear cargo area will hold 492 litres, expanding to 1430 litres with the rear seats down (and they drop flat).

The Subaru WRX Sportswagon will also accommodate tall occupants in the rear seats, making it a smart choice for families who live life in the fast lane.

What’s under the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon’s bonnet?

This iteration of the WRX sees capacity of the flat-four engine expand to 2.4 litres, with a turbocharger boosting outputs to 202kW at 5,600rpm and 350Nm from 2,000-5,200rpm.

That just a 5kW lift over the previous 2.0-litre turbo engine and highlights how much more potential performance there is to be had, should buyers boost the turbo pressure (not that we recommend it beyond track vehicles, given it will void the warranty).

Sedans can be had with a manual or CVT, but the wagons are a CVT-only proposition.

There’s a reason why CVTs aren’t typically used in performance vehicles but Subaru’s persistence with this transmission has resulted in a version that is acceptably responsive, if lacking the accelerator-actuated reactivity of a dual-clutch auto.

Power is sent to all four wheels using Subaru’s signature all-wheel-drive approach and it defaults to a 45:55 front -to-rear split.

Is the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon efficient?

Belying its performance credentials, the WRX is frugal on fuel if you don’t hammer the right pedal, though you are recommended to feed it the more expensive 95 RON fuel.

The claimed combined fuel use of 8.5 litres over 100km is achievable, as is the urban rating of 11.2 litres/100km.

 

The Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon is 85mm longer than its sedan counterpart.
Only tS versions of the Subaru WRX Sportswagon adopt adaptive dampers.

How does the Subaru WRX tS Sportswagon drive?

You will need to be committed or careless to breach the Sportswagon’s grip levels. With the AWD system shuffling torque to the tyres that need it most and a flat, flex-free chassis, there’s a huge amount of entertainment to be enjoyed without compromising the car or occupant safety.

That’s especially the case with the adaptive dampers set into Sports mode, when they respond with a rapid progression that embarrasses the conventionally damped cars in the range.

The Sportswagon rolls on skinnier, less sticky Yokohama tyres than the Dunlop-shod sedan, so serious owners can make instant improvements to on-the-limit adhesion by upgrading the rubber.

Subaru has deployed a new dual-pinion electronic steering system that “reduces steering resistance, for a smooth and linear steering response”. It has certainly reduced resistance, but at the expense of feedback.

That’s not an issue 95 per cent of the time, but when you’re carving up corners it does detract from the performance ethos that underpins the WRX badge.

It’s a bit like having dental work: you’ve got a fair idea of what’s going on, but the sensation is a bit vague.

Should I buy one?

It is hard to argue against the Subaru WRX Sportswagon in tS guise.

While the sedan faces plenty of opposition from the hot hatch and sedan set; there’s nothing in the Sportswagon’s price bracket that will provide this level of performance and versatility.

It is no longer a boy racer's toy, but is now a potent tool for motoring enthusiasts on a budget.

 

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.


  • BYD Sealion 6
    Review

    2024 BYD Sealion 6 review

    The BYD Sealion 6 is a plug-in hybrid family electric SUV capable of achieving a range of over 1000km if the battery is kept recharged. Can it outshine the Toyota RAV4 Hybird and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the medium SUV segment?
  • Kia EV9 GT-Line
    Review

    2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line review

    The Kia EV9 GT-Line is an exceptional family SUV that stands out in every measure. It's a comfortable seven seat vehicle with fully electric propulsion and realistic battery size that delivers over 500km range.