Mercedes-Benz is gearing up its new Porsche 911-rivalling SLC sports car for a launch late in 2015. The model is still very much on the agenda due to Mercedes’ desire to appeal to a younger audience, despite some senior officials wanting the SLC to be put on hold to allow the German giant to focus on more profitable cars.

Pictured here in an exclusive rendering, the new two-seater will be the second stand-alone model to be created by Mercedes’ AMG performance arm after the SLS.

But AMG sources are remaining tight-lipped on whether the SLC will be built instead of the SLS rather than alongside it in a Mercedes sports car line-up that could swell to include four models: the SLK, SL, SLC and SLS.

The SLC, codenamed W190, is to sport a more contemporary appearance than the retro-inspired SLS as part of Mercedes’ youthful brief. “It is important that it appeals to the youth crowd, even though in all likelihood it will be bought by older customers,” a senior design source revealed.

Mercedes officials who have seen the car claim it gets a distinctive swept-back silhouette and an evolution of the ‘soft nose’ treatment seen on recent Mercedes models.

Dimensionally, it is described as being as wide as the SLS but shorter. Unlike the gullwing-doored SLS coupé, the initial fixed-roof version of the SLC is planned to receive conventional front-hinged doors. A roadster version using a traditional fabric roof is set for launch in 2016.

The coupé’s targeted 2014 launch has been pushed back a year, due to engineering capacity problems caused by the new 2014 C-class.

However, despite the delay, development is on track. “We are progressing the project in a methodical fashion, but there are limits to how many cars we can engineer at the same time,” confirmed a source.

Sources say AMG is benchmarking the SLC against the Aston Martin Vantage as much as the 911 due to its similar front-engined, rear-drive layout.

The SLC will adopt a lightweight aluminium body that weighs around 220kg and is expected to be supplied by Magna. A kerb weight of around 1480kg, some 100kg more than the lightest 911, is being targeted.

The SLC’s V8 will be mounted as far back as possible to optimise weight distribution, with a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox located in the rear axle.

Mystery surrounds which Mercedes V8 engine the SLC will use. Initial plans were to provide it with a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, early engineering of which has already taken place. But the cost of developing the new engine, which would produce around 450bhp in the SLC, is leading Mercedes’ financiers to push AMG towards using the SLK55 AMG’s normally aspirated 5.5-litre V8.

This engine currently produces 416bhp — 4bhp less than the Aston Vantage V8 but 21bhp more than the Porsche 911 Carrera S. But the V8’s 398lb ft comfortably eclipses both the Porsche and Aston.

AMG boss Ola Källenius has dismissed speculation of a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 for a base version. “The V8 engine commands cult status at AMG,” he said. “It is what our customers demand.”

The issue of which engine the SLC will use is further clouded by Mercedes’ need to engineer its famed 6.2-litre V8 to meet future stringent EU6 emissions regulations without robbing it of power.