From the Super Mario Wiki
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Hopping (referred to as Mini-Jump in Mario Kart: Super Circuit) is a technique that Karts, Bikes, and ATVs can use in the Mario Kart series except in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. All drivers can use the Hop by pressing . In Super Mario Kart, both the and buttons are used to hop (hopping in Mario Kart Wii works only with the Drift option set to Manual.). Hopping is used mainly for drifting, but vehicles can also hop over small gaps.
Hopping has several additional functions in other games. Hopping in Mario Kart 64 can let players use shortcuts. In Mario Kart DS, hopping when going over a Dash Panel ramp allows the player to perform a High Jump. Hopping off a ramp (pressing ) on Mario Kart 7 allows the player to perform a trick, which gives a small boost upon landing. Hopping in Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe functions as it does in Mario Kart 7.
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