Mario Kart 8 characters and kart combinations is important for mastering the game and getting the best possible times, whether in harder cups, time trials or online - and if you want to steamroll over your friends locally, of course.
As you play through Mario Kart 8 and collect coins, you unlock a number of kart parts - tires, gliders and kart bodies - all of which have varying stats. And since each course is different, some combinations will work better than others.
If you need more help with other parts of the game, consult our Mario Kart 8 guide, tips and tricks page.
Mario Kart 8 characters and weight classes
Each character in Mario Kart 8 belongs to one of three different weight classes: Light, Medium and Heavy. As you'd expect, lighter characters have lower overall speed but also much faster acceleration, while heavier characters get off the grid more slowly but have a zippier maximum speed.
That said, within those classes there are differences, with a lighter and heavier version of each, which we've broken down below.
Note that the weight and shape of your Mii determines its weight classification, so can be part of any of the three categories.
|Very Light||Baby Daisy|
|Very Light||Baby Luigi|
|Very Light||Baby Mario|
|Very Light||Baby Peach|
|Very Light||Baby Rosalina|
|Very Light||Lemmy Koopa|
|Very Light||Dry Bones (Deluxe)|
|Light||Wendy O. Koopa|
|Light||Bowser Jr (Deluxe)|
|Medium||Tanooki Mario (DLC)|
|Medium||Cat Peach (DLC)|
|Medium||Inkling Boy (Deluxe)|
|Medium||Inkling Girl (Deluxe)|
|Medium Heavy||Ludwig von Koopa|
|Medium Heavy||Iggy Koopa|
|Heavy||Pink Gold Peach|
|Heavy||King Boo (Deluxe)|
|Heavy||Gold Mario (Deluxe)|
|Very Heavy||Morton Koopa Jr.|
|Very Heavy||Dry Bowser (DLC)|
How do I access characters in Mario Kart 8?
On Switch, all characters (with the exception of Gold Mario) are available from the get go - that includes all DLC and new Deluxe characters.
On Wii U, characters are unlocked after completing specific challenges, new characters are unlocked at random as you win cups. The only exception to this rule is the Mii character, who is always unlocked after you've won your eighth cup.
How to get the best kart combination for you in Mario Kart 8
When it comes to multi-track races, it's very hard to recommend an overall best kart setup, and you should experiment to find the balance of speed, grip and acceleration that works for you.
With that said, it's generally regarded that heavier load outs tend to perform better in the game thanks to its top speeds, so once you have become accustomed to the tracks with lighter characters (giving you more acceleration and thus, more room to catch up if you get knocked) it may be something to consider.
There are also special ghost times set by Nintendo staff that will give you a good idea of what kart pieces to choose before attempting a specific track.
Select the View Ghost option from the Time Trials menu, then cycle to the Nintendo staff ghost that's included with every track in the game. Hit the + button on your controller to view a breakdown of the racer's preferred parts.
That's the basics covered. If you really want to set a blistering time for a course, Nintendo has revealed its top internal times to the creators of the official strategy guide for the Wii U version of the game.
Ghost data isn't available for these runs though, so you'll need expert knowledge of the track as well as blistering reflexes if you want to even get close to these times. When you're ready for a stiff challenge, see if you can beat the creators at their own game.
Need more help? Our Mario Kart 8 guide, tips tricks and everything we know about Deluxe can help improve your racing game. Elsewhere, we have a description of shortcuts on every course, a breakdown of characters and weight classes, unlockables including Gold karts and Gold Mario and an amiibo and Mii racing suit list.
Best kart combinations in Mario Kart 8 on Wii U
Note that the following list doesn't contain the DLC tracks, and was created for the Wii U version. With new kart parts as well as physics changes in the Switch edition - including the removal of the fire hopping technique - it's possible these may no longer be the strongest combinations for these tracks. We'll update this list in the coming days when we know more about the Switch edition.
|Bone-Dry Dunes||2:02.028||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Bowser's Castle||2:15.686||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Cheep Cheep Beach||1:57.169||Bowser||Sport Bike||Slick||Bowser Kite|
|Cloudtop Cruise||2:11.595||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|DK Jungle||2:14.917||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Dolphin Shoals||2:09.590||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Donut Plains 3||1:24.754||Morton||Gold Standard||Cyber Slick||Cloud Glider|
|Dry Dry Desert||2:14.415||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Electrodrome||2:07.774||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|GBA Mario Circuit||1:35.290||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Grumble Volcano||2:10.129||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Mario Circuit||1:53.017||Bowser||Sport Bike||Slick||Bowser Kite|
|Mario Kart Stadium||1:44.503||Bowser||Sport Bike||Slick||Bowser Kite|
|Melody Motorway||2:06.354||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Moo Moo Meadows||1:31.643||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Mount Wario||1:53.516||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|N64 Rainbow Road||1:26.548||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Piranha Plant Slide||2:12.079||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Rainbow Road||2:15.895||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Royal Raceway||2:04.626||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Sherbet Land||2:02.291||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Shy Guy Falls||2:08.775||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Sunshine Airport||2:08.177||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Sweet Sweet Canyon||1:57.071||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Toad Harbor||2:11.578||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Toad's Turnpike||1:50.089||Bowser||Sport Bike||Slick||Bowser Kite|
|Thwomp Ruins||1:57.193||Mii||Gold Standard||Slick||Bowser Kite|
|Tick-Tock Clock||1:59.372||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Twisted Mansion||2:01.605||Wario||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Wario Stadium||2:04.685||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
|Water Park||1:48.231||Warior||Sport Bike||Cyber Slick||Parafoil|
|Yoshi Valley||2:08.495||Wario||Sport Bike||Slick||Parafoil|
Additional reporting by Matthew Reynolds