The warning signs have been hard to ignore. For Stellantis’ Dodge, Ram, Chrysler, and Jeep brands, the V-8’s time is almost up, even for the headliner specialty items like the Hellcat-powered musclecars that define the Dodge brand’s contemporary identity. But it appears there is at least a stepping stone along the way to Stellantis’ wide-scale adoption of EVs, in the form of a turbocharged, 3.0-liter I-6 engine that enthusiasts have dubbed the Tornado—and, briefly, that Stellantis itself confirmed was in production at a facility in Mexico.
It all started (as it so often does) when a member on the AllPar enthusiast forums spotted an otherwise snooze-inducing fact sheet on the Stellantis media site about the Saltillo Engine Plant in Mexico. It included a short list of the engines it assembles for Dodge, Ram, and Jeep, including 5.7, 6.2, and 6.4-liter V-8s. But, for a brief period of time, this document had a couple of other tidbits.
In the list of products, it noted a “3.0-liter GMET6 HO” that was “launched on Nov. 22, 2021.” Wait, what? Let’s break down the name, because Mopar folks are probably already latching onto the “GME” part of the codename. That is the FCA/Stellantis Global Medium Engine family, which provides the “Hurricane” 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine for the Giulia, Stelvio, Wrangler, Cherokee, and several Maserati products—and, notably, is the ICE component of the Wrangler 4Xe powertrain. Add two cylinders to a 2.0-liter I-4 and you get … yup, 3.0 liters.
It’s fairly common for companies to create modular engine families, and with increasing emissions and efficiency regulations, it’s appealing to be able to scale an engine up or down. Jaguar’s Ingenium engine family is one example of the trend, as is the heavy sharing of engineering between Mercedes’ M256 I-6 and the company’s other modern I-4 and diesel products. So it makes a lot of sense that Stellantis is able to leverage the engineering that’s already gone into the GME engine and create something that can take the place of the aging, inefficient V-8 offerings.
That makes the rest of the engine code somewhat self-explanatory. T6 is shorthand for turbocharged I-6, and “HO” stands for “high output”—leading us to believe that there’s likely a low-output variant that’ll be hopped up with some sort of electrification, like the Mercedes M256, perhaps taking the form of the company’s existing eTorque motor-generator light hybrid system. But the HO Tornado seems, to us, to be a performance-oriented version whose most likely mission is to replace the V-8s used in some or all of the company’s products, like Grand Cherokee, Charger, Challenger, and perhaps some Ram 1500 models.
FCA patents from November 2019 show a twin-turbo arrangement, with each turbo feeding three cylinders. Inline-sixes can be good performers, offering smooth power delivery and a great sound. And Chrysler has some experience with high-performance I-6s, particularly the company’s Australian division, which leaned hard into raw performance with the interesting Hemi-6 line of engines, particularly the hot Six-Pack variants.
And the stout and seemingly economy oriented Slant Six has always had its fair share of interest from the hot rod community, and it’s beefy enough to take some boost. The company’s V-8 offerings have always overshadowed its I-6 history, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with the layout. Add a couple of turbos and modern engine controls, and there are plenty of bone-stock I-6 engines today pushing 400 hp, and the contemporary BMW M3 Competition pumps out 503 horsepower without any electrification.
With the engine’s assembly line (at least) already running in Saltillo, one thing is for sure: We’ll know more soon.
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