Volkswagen was built on the curvaceous back of a tough, simple, practical family car with its engine in the back. The current Beetle is a pretty far cry from that car, and it's also not a strong seller. As VW gets serious about cutting costs, could the Beetle be on the chopping block?

That's what German newspaper Der Spiegel is hearing these days. As VW needs to be reduced by five billion euros, or about $5.4 billion, the company is exploring whether to axe some of their slower selling cars. Two of those under consideration are reportedly three-door hatchbacks, sales of which have been declining in Europe for some time.

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One of them is the three-door Polo subcompact hatchback, which isn't sold in the U.S. A five-door Polo could survive instead. The other car under review is the Beetle, the most recent version of which was launched in 2011. Since then it hasn't been an especially strong seller, maxing out at around 5,000 sold a month but usually hovering between 2,000 and 3,000, according to GoodCarBadCar.

That pales in comparison to the New Beetle-mania of the late 1990s when the completely revised car moved more than 83,000 units in 1999. The current Beetle hasn't exactly lit the market on fire the way the New Beetle did.

A VW spokesman told Automotive News Europe that there are no decisions on the Beetle or the Polo at the moment, and as always, this report should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Still, I'd love for VW to find some way to let this storied nameplate survive into the future, especially if they do something truly new and interesting with it. "Stylish Golf coupe" might not cut it anymore.


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.