The 2022 Subaru WRX has been a controversial new offering in the compact sport sedan segment, mostly thanks to the styling of the thing. While I think it looks fine and is in lineage with a historically goofy-looking car, reviews from the first drive event have been mixed. Journalists are starting to get their hands on cars for deeper reviews and YouTuber Savagegeese has subjected it to a technical gauntlet and the results from a dyno session are fascinating.
Let me preface this by saying dyno sessions can be dubious at best and misleading at worst. One car on one dyno does not determine real horsepower and torque numbers with absolute accuracy. From weather conditions like temperature, humidity, and altitude that affect engine output to dyno variances, there are many factors that could make one dyno read differently from another. An accurate dataset can be painted from many different dynos on many different days and a single run doesn’t have as much value as a definitive number.
That said, the variance in power reported by Savagegeese is significant enough to be beyond any factor of correction: A new 2.4-liter turbocharged WRX made 20 lb-ft less peak wheel torque than a 2.0-liter turbo 2019 WRX on the same dyno. It makes about the same peak horsepower at about 246 wheel horsepower, all with the 25-percent increase in displacement. What gives?
Conventional wisdom would say the increased displacement should add torque at the very least but I think the dyno charts are telling a story even beyond what Savagegeese found. AMS Performance hosted these dyno sessions and is a credible source for tuning and dyno knowledge, having made several Nissan GT-R drag race cars that run deep into seven-second quarter-mile times. Its dyno engineer noted how much cleaner the new WRX ran compared to the old “VA” generation WRX.
Cleaner, in this context, means consistently. Even if the VA WRX did make more at peak, it was inconsistent and sluggish to make the power. I’ve driven several WRXs that feel exactly like this and they felt terrible. The factory tuning for that 2.0-liter was poor at best and characterized by constant ignition timing and boost pressure corrections — frankly, it felt like it was tuned by a high school shop class.
The new “VB” WRX’s power curve compared to the VA’s tells the whole story. Where the VA has peaks and valleys, the VB has an impressively defined curve with an utterly flat tabletop of torque. What this tells me, more than anything, is that the VB has a lot left on the table. With turbocharged cars, a peaky and jagged power curve can signal a bottleneck of some kind either from the engine, the tune, or the turbo.
A good tune and a well-sized turbocharger to engine displacement allow for smooth power curves. My theory is that the 2.0-liter of the VA WRX was working overtime to make the advertised power while maintaining emissions compliance, perhaps unnecessarily so, thanks to a poor factory tune or hardware.
Think of it this way: Cars with a lot of overhead for power can throttle back boost and ignition timing to create a more desirable power and torque curve. Where cars with little overhead need to push harder and that can expose cracks in power delivery. Those peaks on the VA WRXs power curve compared to the straight-edge torque plateau of the VB tell the whole story for me.
So the 2022 WRX may make less power on one dyno, but I think that there will be plenty of extra power to be had once the aftermarket gets a hold of some new Rexys. Don’t sound the dyno alarm bells just yet. There is much more to be discovered about the latest world-rally bred legend.
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