The next-generation Subaru WRX will launch with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with an optional CVT automatic transmission that engineers claim will deliver a dynamic driving experience.
Based on the Subaru Forester XT unit, the new transmission in the WRX – known as Sport Lineartronic CVT in Subaru-speak, differs from the standard system by offering several operating modes: Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp, as well as step-shifting.
Most CVTs have been condemned for producing harsh engine notes on heavy throttle loads, though the WRX gets extra sound insulation that is claimed to muffle the sound.
More aggressive acceleration produces stepped shifting, giving the impression of six forward gear ratios using either the ‘I’ or ‘S’ modes. Moving to the Sport Sharp mode and using the paddleshifters brings a sharper throttle response and eight-speed close-ratio stepped-shifting.
“If you’re driving the WRX like a sports car, it will feel like a sports car, and yes, it will give you that dynamic feeling,” said Subaru’s General Manager Product, Masua Takatsu.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into developing our sport CVT, and feel that it delivers the kind of response and feel that you would expect of a car like the WRX,” he added.
Asked whether a more sophisticated dual-clutch transmission was a consideration for the new WRX, Takatsu said the budget didn’t allow for that level of technology, due to the entry-level price tag in the United States, which is expected to be around $25,000 (plus on-road costs).