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The Subaru WRX is one car that’s been synonymous with the world rally scene since it was launched in the early 1990s, claiming wins in some of the top globally acclaimed rally circuits, such as the 24-hour Nurburgring race, Australian Rally Championship (ARC), and manufacturer’s championship races. The car featured a powerful turbocharged engine and a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which propelled it to success on asphalt and off-road. 

People often talk about the Subaru WRX, but have you ever wondered about the meaning of WRX in Subaru WRX? Some say it means “World Rally Cross,” and others are convinced it stands for “World Rally eXperimental.” So, where’s the truth? Let’s find out, but first, it would be best to look back at the history of the legendary WRX.  

A brief history of the Subaru WRX

A yellow Subaru WRX parked indoors.
Subaru WRX | Subaru of America, Inc.

The story of the WRX began with the Legacy, which broke the world record for long-distance high-speed runs in Arizona in 1989. It featured a 200 hp 2.0-liter EJ20G turbocharged engine, but its slightly modified version was a compact four-cylinder EJ20 turbocharged Boxer that went into the first-generation WRX. The original model was launched in 1992 in Japan and has become a global racing icon.

In 2000, Subaru launched the second-generation Impreza WRX, introducing the “bug-eye” headlight design that earned it the coveted 2000 Wheel Car of the Year Award. However, the most impressive upgrade came with the 2006 model, which packed a 169kW 2.5-liter horizontally opposed Boxer with 320-Nm of torque. 

The third-generation Impreza WRX came in 2007 with an acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 5.2 seconds. In 2014 we saw the arrival of the fourth-generation car. It didn’t bear the “Impreza” to its name. Still, it introduced a 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged Boxer engine that delivered optimum performance, fuel efficiency, and exhaust emission through Subaru’s Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS).

Enter the new 2022 Subaru WRX with its menacing and muscular stance, solidly-engineered chassis, and packaged in a super-safe construction; the fifth-generation WRX simply sets the trend for affordable performance. 

The Drive discovered that the Subaru WRX’s history is significant in the automotive world. Most of the car models that we love today could be plying our roads if it were not for the Subaru WRX: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the Volkswagen Golf R, the Ford Focus RS, and the Honda Civic Type-R. 

What does the “WRX” stand for in Subaru WRX?

The debate about what the letter WRX in the Subaru WRX means goes on; According to Subaru Australia, WRX stands for World Rally eXperimental, but remember that phrase was used to refer to the first WRX sedan model launched in 1992, which established Subaru as a force to reckon with in the World of Rallying (WR). So, Subaru couldn’t find a more befitting name to describe it than “WR eXperimental.”

But the WRX is no longer an experimental model, not after dominating the world’s renowned rally championships for years. It’s a rally legend that propelled the WRX STI to the top of the World Rally Cross, and that’s what WRX stands for – World Rally Cross (the X is the symbol of a cross) – according to Garage Dreams

On the other hand, the STI means Subaru Technica International, which is Subaru’s equivalent of Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M Division. STI was established in 1988 by Subaru Corporation (then known as Fuji Heavy Industries). Subaru’s in-house department, STI, specializes in producing performance-enhancement parts for the company’s cars. 

The current state of the Subaru WRX

The first WRX launched in 1992 and was available in a sedan and wagon body style, but the 2014 model came without “Impreza” in its name, pushing the WRX into its stand-alone model, redesigned for the 2022 model year. However, the car hasn’t been sold in American dealerships for a while, but it’s gradually making a return, at least in Australia, as a Sportswagon model. 

The 2022 WRX features a 271-hp 2.5-liter engine, similar to the one found in the WRX sedan, but with a cleaner appearance. Unfortunately, we don’t expect to see the WRX wagon in the United States anytime soon. The reason why is because while the sedan provides a 6-speed manual transmission, the wagon features a continuously variable automatic transmission, which is definitely not the U.S.’s first choice for an All-Wheel Drive performance car. 

Subaru claims it has improved its CVT’s responsiveness and intends to integrate its lineup to roll out some of the best Subaru models in the future. That’s a caveat because the company is unlikely to change its mind anytime soon; perhaps they could if we convince it enough.


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