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Mario Kart 8 best karts and characters and weight classes

Piece together the best kart body, tires and gliders to lead the pack.

Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe characters and karts are 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, so we've detailed the best karts below.

If you need more help with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, consult our Mario Kart 8 guide, tips and tricks page.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass Wave 6.Watch on YouTube

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.

Here's all characters and weight classes in Mario Kart 8:

Weight classCharacter
Very LightBaby Daisy
Very LightBaby Luigi
Very LightBaby Mario
Very LightBaby Peach
Very LightBaby Rosalina
Very LightLemmy Koopa
Very LightDry Bones (Deluxe)
LightKoopa Troopa
LightLarry Koopa
LightShy Guy
LightWendy O. Koopa
LightIsabelle (DLC)
LightBowser Jr (Deluxe)
MediumPrincess Daisy
MediumPrincess Peach
MediumTanooki Mario (DLC)
MediumCat Peach (DLC)
MediumVillager (DLC)
MediumInkling Boy (Deluxe)
MediumInkling Girl (Deluxe)
Medium HeavyMario
Medium HeavyLuigi
Medium HeavyLudwig von Koopa
Medium HeavyIggy Koopa
HeavyDonkey Kong
HeavyMetal Mario
HeavyPink Gold Peach
HeavyRoy Koopa
HeavyLink (DLC)
HeavyKing Boo (Deluxe)
HeavyGold Mario (Deluxe)
Very HeavyBowser
Very HeavyWario
Very HeavyMorton Koopa Jr.
Very HeavyDry Bowser (DLC)

Note that the weight and shape of your Mii determines its weight classification, so can be part of any of the three categories.

Note Yoshi, Shy Guy and Inkling Boy and Girl all have different colour options.

How to unlock 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 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.

Best karts in Mario Kart 8

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.

With that in mind, here's the best karts for each course in Mario Kart 8:

Bone-Dry Dunes2:02.028WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Bowser's Castle2:15.686WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Cheep Cheep Beach1:57.169BowserSport BikeSlickBowser Kite
Cloudtop Cruise2:11.595WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
DK Jungle2:14.917WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Dolphin Shoals2:09.590WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Donut Plains 31:24.754MortonGold StandardCyber SlickCloud Glider
Dry Dry Desert2:14.415WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Electrodrome2:07.774WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
GBA Mario Circuit1:35.290WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Grumble Volcano2:10.129WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Mario Circuit1:53.017BowserSport BikeSlickBowser Kite
Mario Kart Stadium1:44.503BowserSport BikeSlickBowser Kite
Melody Motorway2:06.354WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Moo Moo Meadows1:31.643WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Mount Wario1:53.516WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
N64 Rainbow Road1:26.548WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Piranha Plant Slide2:12.079WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Rainbow Road2:15.895WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Royal Raceway2:04.626WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Sherbet Land2:02.291WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Shy Guy Falls2:08.775WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Sunshine Airport2:08.177WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Sweet Sweet Canyon1:57.071WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Toad Harbor2:11.578WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Toad's Turnpike1:50.089BowserSport BikeSlickBowser Kite
Thwomp Ruins1:57.193MiiGold StandardSlickBowser Kite
Tick-Tock Clock1:59.372WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Twisted Mansion2:01.605WarioSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Wario Stadium2:04.685WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil
Water Park1:48.231WariorSport BikeCyber SlickParafoil
Yoshi Valley2:08.495WarioSport BikeSlickParafoil

If you need some more help, check out our Mario Kart 8 tips and tricks page.