DETROIT -- "No one is born fully formed," the late Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire once wrote. "It is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are."
Don't tell that to Hyundai Motor Group.
Hyundai came to the Detroit auto show last week with what seemed to be a fully formed vision for its Genesis luxury brand, built around rear-wheel-drive platforms, Nurburgring-worthy tuning and styling by the best designers that the Hyundai empire could pluck from the likes of Audi, BMW, Bentley and Lamborghini.
Hyundai Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, the 45-year-old son of 77-year-old chairman Chung Mong-koo and his presumed successor, made a rare appearance in Detroit last week to introduce the Genesis G90 flagship sedan personally.
"What we are unveiling," he said, "is an uncompromising commitment to luxury."
It presented a stark contrast to Honda Motor Co.'s Acura, which, after 30 years of experience and on-and-off success, is still struggling to find itself. Hamstrung by front-wheel-drive architectures, banal styling and a lack of interest among top Japanese executives, Acura remains adrift as essentially a North America-only endeavor.
Last week in Detroit, Acura unveiled the Precision Concept, a slinky, California-designed sedan that was intended as a vow of things to come. Sporting the dramatic folds and creases of the NSX supercar, it was a design unlike anything in the classic Germanic repertoire. But given the seeming indifference toward the brand from Honda headquarters in Japan, the concept may instead land like an unrequited love letter.
Styling cues from the Precision Concept may appear this year on a face-lift for the MDX crossover, but a sedan bearing its looks may not appear until the next redesign of the 3-year-old RLX, which, despite Acura's 30 years of heritage, was outsold in the U.S. by the more expensive Hyundai Equus and Kia K900 in 2015.