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The instruction manual leaves much to be desired. I know the karts themselves affect your stats, but does each player have the same base stats or do they differ?

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+1 I was just about to ask this myself. –  Wipqozn Dec 25 '11 at 19:45

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

From MarioWiki:

Just as in Mario Kart Wii, each character gets their own specific stat boost that accounts for kart customization, based on their weight class. The units are out of 6.[2] In general, light characters have high values ​​of Acceleration, Handling, and Off-Road, while heavy characters have high values ​​of Speed and Weight. Hover over the weight column to see the characters in the represented weight class.

Here are the different characters unlocked from the beginning and their weight classes:

Feather:
Toad, Koopa Troops

Light:
Peach, Yoshi,

Medium:
Mario, Luigi

Cruiser:
Donkey Kong

Heavy:
Bowser

Unlockable characters:

Feather:

Shy Guy, Lakitu

Light:

Daisy

Medium:

Mii

Cruiser:

Rosalina, Wiggler

Heavy:

Wario, Metal Mario, Honey Queen

Source

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Spoiler tags fail :( –  JohnoBoy Dec 25 '11 at 16:59
    
You can totally make up for the spoiler fail by voting up the question. :P –  stay Dec 25 '11 at 17:12

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