Almost as common as articles on the Toyabaru FR-SGT86BRZ, are people complaining about how the Toyobaru doesn't have enough power. In contrast to this we have the Fiat 500 Abarth and Fiesta ST: similarly spec'd cars that also receive positive critical response and often come up in conversations among enthusiasts, yet they get a pass from the more power brigade, why is that?
First let's look a the specs:
The Abarth is a bit down on power, but in the same ballpark, and the Fiesta ST is within spitting distance of the Toyabaru, yet both of these cars are fine while the Toyabaru is underpowered? I think this is a result of perception of what the cars are and expectations of what they should do.
The Abarth and Fiesta ST are built on economy car platforms. Yes they have aero kits, loud exhausts and a lower ride height, but you can still see the economy car underneath. Their humble origins set the bar lower, so when they turn out to be raucous fun it's a pleasant surprise. They're feisty underdogs punching above their weight, and who doesn't like that?
The Toyobaru on the other hand looks like a purpose built sports car (which it is), it looks like it should be fast, powerful and expensive (which it isn't). It's a low slung sporty coupe with back seats of questionable utility. It looks like something from a Fast and Furious movie (just without the ridiculous wing and slathering of vinyl stickers) and because of this it attracts the attention of people who get hung up on horsepower figures.
Compounding this is the hype surrounding the Toyabaru and its release. It was getting to the point where it seemed like the Toyobaru was the second coming of Jesus in car form, here to rapture all the devout enthusiasts into automotive heaven. When there's this much hype around a car, it's bound to disappoint some people once they finally get their hands on it, and there's gonna be people who are gunning to take it down just because of the ubiquity of its media coverage.
There's another sporty little coupe out there that seems to escape the wrath of the more power brigade:
The Mazda MX-5 Miata: base price $23,720, 167 hp @ 7,000 rpm, 0-60 in 7.1s. Similar specs to the Toyobaru, comes up all the time and receives a lot of critical affection, yet it seems to be just fine on power. Again, it comes to perception: the Miata is a small roadster built in the British tradition, which is more about pure driving enjoyment than hardcore performance figures or lap times. Coupled with its (undeserved) reputation as a "hairdressers" car it doesn't draw the attention and criticism of the more power brigade so it gets a pass.
For the record, I think the Toyobaru is just fine and the complaints of it being underpowered are undeserved. Let's enjoy it for what it is and be glad that there's another sporty, RWD coupe available for a reasonable price.