Guide: All You Need to Know on Mario Kart 8 Characters and Kart Customisations

The finer details

Mario Kart 8 is now well-established on the Wii U, shifting plenty of copies and attracting a sizeable and dedicated online audience. Whether trying to beat every Grand Prix with three stars or tackling the increasingly skilful opponents online, securing top spot is not becoming a tricky challenge of fine margins.

This is a title not only with hidden depth, but adjustments that could genuinely make all of the difference in a tight finish. Vehicle customisation and character selection aren't just choices on which look the best, or favoured mascots, but fundamentally affect your performance.

In this article, then, we want to arm you with the details that can help you improve your combinations, especially if you want to win those Nintendo Life community events.


When it comes to putting together a kart, first things first — you might think that the more points you put into a stat (speed, acceleration, etc.), the more effective said stat becomes, and this is completely true, with the exception of acceleration. Acceleration only increases with each full point, so if you've got, say, 3.75 acceleration, that's going to do exactly the same as 3.00, you'll have to throw it up to 4.00 to actually receive an increase. For this reason, try to keep the acceleration stat at x.00 or, if you really have to, x.25, because having any half points in acceleration is a complete waste and could be much better used in another stat.

Although all stats could potentially benefit you in some way, speed is naturally the most important, with acceleration and handling not far behind. Weight never really mattered that much in any previous Mario Kart games, but it's even less important here, as bumping into others during anti-gravity sections, which appear on almost every track in the game, gives you a speed boost instead of knocking you away. The tracks in MK8 are also generally quite wide, so you run almost no risk of getting knocked off courses unless you're standing completely still. Traction affects how fast you lose your speed when you go over grass and other terrain that isn't part of the main road. That's something you shouldn't be doing in the first place (unless you've got mushrooms or a star) which means that it is also fairly unimportant.

Weight Classes

While there are three basic weight tiers, namely lightweight, medium and heavyweight, each is actually further divided into additional groups:

Light 1: All five babies, Lemmy, light Miis
Light 2: Toad, Toadette, Koopa Troopa, Lakitu, Shy Guy, Larry, Wendy
Medium 1: Peach, Daisy, Yoshi
Medium 2: Mario, Luigi, Iggy, Ludwig, medium Miis
Heavy 1: DK, Waluigi, Rosalina, Roy
Heavy 2: Metal Mario, Pink Gold Peach
Heavy 3: Bowser, Wario, Morton, heavy Miis

For the most part, the heavier your character, the higher their default speed and (of course) weight, but the lower their acceleration, handling and traction, with the reverse being true if you go lighter. The one exception is with Metal Mario and Pink Gold Peach, who have the same speed as the Heavy 1 characters, but sacrifice acceleration and handling for more weight and traction, arguably making them slightly less useful than the other two groups of heavies. Now of course, due to the nature of Mario Kart and its items, any character could potentially come in first, but the high top speed of the heavyweights simply makes them much more likely to win. Of course, if you're a fan of, say, Toad, that's not going to be be pleasant news, but aside from Mario Kart 64 and Super Circuit, this is how it's always been, so you shouldn't have expected any different.

As a final note, the table below from MarioWiki.com is a useful visual guide.

Here are some setups we would recommend for each of the weight classes. There are several parts which have exactly the same stats, so choose whichever you think looks best. When it comes to gliders, there's only two different types - one which doesn't change your stats at all, and one which lowers your weight and increases your acceleration by 0.25, we'll refer to these as "Weight" and "Acceleration" gliders:

Light 1
Body: Buddybug, Landship
Wheels: Cushion, Wooden, Sponge
Glider: Acceleration type
This build probably won't get you a lot of victories with its low speed (1.25), but the very high acceleration (5.00) and handling (5.00) will allow you to recover from hits almost instantly and make any turn seem like a cakewalk.

Light 1
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Slick, Cyber Slick
Glider: Acceleration type
The super lightweights unfortunately don't have high odds of winning no matter what you do, but this way, you've got a least a decent amount of a speed (3.25), with medium acceleration (3.00) and high handling (4.75) that should make any turn a breeze.

Light 2
Body: Comet, Sport Bike, Jet Bike, Yoshi Bike
Wheels: Normal, Normal Blue, Off-Road, Retro Off-Road
Glider: Acceleration type
Due to the nature of the acceleration stat, if you try to use a kart with characters from this group, your stats will essentially be the same as the previous build, but with worse handling. Therefore we suggest to use a bike with these guys, this will sacrifice some speed (2.75) but give you high acceleration (4.00) and handling (5.00) instead.

Light 2
Body: Wild Wiggler
Wheels: Slick, Cyber Slick
Glider: Weight type
If you love characters from this group but just can't get used to the way bikes handle, this is a solid alternative using one of the game's few ATV bodies. ATVs can't take turns as sharply as bikes or karts, but you'll get medium speed (3.25), acceleration (3.00) and high handling (4.75), making this a rather balanced build.

Medium 1
Body: Badwagon, Tri-Speeder, Steel Driver, Standard Quad
Wheels: Roller, Azure Roller, Button
Glider: Weight type
Mario, Luigi and Yoshi are usually the jacks of all trades and masters of none, so this build does just that, with average stats across the board: medium speed (3.25), medium acceleration (3.00) and medium handling (3.00). It's your choice whether you want to use a kart or an ATV.

Medium 2
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Cushion, Wooden, Sponge
Glider: Acceleration type
The combinations lend themselves slightly better to this group, as this particular combo will give them both higher speed (3.50) and handling (3.50) than their slightly less heavier buddies. Acceleration (3.00) remains the same however!

Heavy 1
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Roller, Azure Roller, Button
Glider: Weight type
As we move towards the heavyweights it becomes quite obvious that there's one particular set of karts that's much more useful than the others. This combination keeps things speedy but moderately balanced, with high speed (4.25) and medium acceleration (3.00) and handling (3.00).

Heavy 1
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Slick, Cyber Slick
Glider: Acceleration type
This build puts a larger focus on speed (5.25) at the cost of some acceleration (2.00) and handling (2.75). You'll be almost unbeatable in terms of pure speed, just try not to get hit!

Heavy 2
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Roller, Azure Roller, Button
Glider: Acceleration type
Essentially the same as the first Heavy 1 build, this gives exactly the same speed (4.25), acceleration (3.00) and handling (3.00), with the only differences being in weight and grip. Unfortunately, a speed-focused build with these two characters is not very useful as you would get the bare minimum in acceleration, which is why we recommend picking one of the other two Heavy groups if you just want to go fast.

Heavy 3
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Roller, Azure Roller, Button
Glider: Acceleration type
This keeps things a little balanced, but still gives you high speed (4.75), with medium acceleration (3.00) and low handling (2.25)

Heavy 3
Body: Mach 8, Circuit Special, Sports Coupé, Gold Kart
Wheels: Slick, Cyber Slick
Glider: Weight type
The fastest build you can possibly get, with the highest achievable speed (5.75). Of course, as a tradeoff, it has very poor acceleration (1.50, which as explained before becomes 1.00) and low handling (2.25), which means a single item could cost you the race. The obvious best choice for time trials though!


So those are some of our tips on getting the most out of your drivers and vehicles. Share your favourite combinations and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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