Drifting, known as Powersliding before Mario Kart Wii, is an ability in all the Mario Kart games that allows the player to slide around a corner without losing any speed that would occur had the player simply turned.
In Super Mario Kart, drifting is essential, lest the kart spin out.
Beginning with Mario Kart 64, powersliding allowed players to gain a short burst of speed known as a Mini-Turbo. It is possible to Mini-Turbo in every MK game after Super Mario Kart. However, the technique varies slightly from game to game.
In Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Double Dash, one must rapidly press left and right on the d-pad/control stick while drifting until sparks of a certain color appear. (Red in Mario Kart DS and blue in Mario Kart Double Dash.)
In Mario Kart Wii, if B, 1, or R is held down while drifting, blue sparks will appear under the wheels of the kart/bike, and the player will get a Mini-Turbo when letting go of one of those buttons. (Note that in Mario Kart Wii, only karts can perform Super Mini-Turbos by drifting for a slightly extended period.) Also, players are given the option of choosing Automatic Drift- the difference from manual (the usual form) is that the hop button doesn't need to be pressed; only turning is essential, and the kart will drift "automatically". Of course, the catch is that Mini-Turboes can not be performed. This is the second and latest appearance of Auto Drift, the first being in Super Mario Kart.
In Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, players can obtain the Mini-Turbo by drifting tightly for long enough, and then stopping the boost before losing speed. The amount of time required to obtain a boost is increased by drifting wider.