50 Words or Less
The Cobra DARKSPEED X driver offers a wonderful combination of speed and forgiveness. Low spin, mid-launch, and straight. Very appealing looks and rewarding sound.
Speed and aerodynamics have been at the heart of Cobra club names for years. Last year featured the Aerojet [driver review HERE], following Radspeed, and Speedzone in recent years. So the name DARKSPEED wasn’t a surprise when I saw teaser posts on social media, but I have to admit I liked it. And I really liked the “out of this world speed” tagline. This heightened intrigue for the 2024 DARKSPEED family of golf clubs and made me anxious to test the DARKSPEED X driver, which sits in the middle of the lineup between the LS and MAX models. Did the performance match my expectations? Read on to find out.
At address, the Cobra DARKSPEED X driver has a balanced, attractive shape. The matte black finish is a winner in my book. There’s pinstriping and a Cobra logo alignment aid, but all are almost invisible in black. It wasn’t until I brought the head closer to my eyes that I noticed the faint graphite weave.
Face on, the profile is typical of most modern drivers – tall and wide – but with a taper that makes it more streamlined. A few graphics providing visual interest, and the target circles are clearly, although slightly, heel bias. In profile, the clubhead displays the aerodynamic shaping that Cobra developed working with true aerospace engineers.
The sole of the DARKSPEED X driver has a ton of eye appeal, even with the absence of bold elements Cobra has often flaunted in the past. Here the carbon weave is more exposed and contrasts nicely with the glossy front chassis. The few pops of blue are a nice finishing touch and differentiate the driver from the other models.
And before leaving this section I have to say the DARKSPEED headcover is one of the nicest stock covers I’ve encountered in recent memory. That starts with the uber soft, luxurious feeling material. The all-black color palette fits the name perfectly. There’s a plethora of Cobra branding, but it’s presented in an appealing way.
Sound & Feel
It took me a few minutes and a handful of swings to decipher the sound of the Cobra DARKSPEED X driver. The tone was a bit lower than the other drivers I could hear on the range. And I was also picking up a hint of timbre that also differentiated the sound. Good strikes were rewarded with some depth. Volume wise, I give the DARKSPEED X a medium plus.
The stability of the clubhead was noteworthy. During my “get to know you” phase, my contact was all over the face yet most every strike felt solid and powerful. I’m happy to trade tactile feedback for a broad sensational feel.
My test model Cobra DARKSPEED X driver came with the stock MCA Kai’li Blue 60 [check out Matt’s review HERE] regular flex shaft. It didn’t take too many swings to realize the shaft and I were not in sync – and the data above in the left column proved that out. Pulling up the Cobra website, my eyes quickly focused on “built to provide the stability demanded by stronger swings” in the Kai’li description. Anyone who’s played with me would never use “stronger” as a descriptor of my swing. Fortunately, the good folks at Club Champion had my gamer shaft, and I was able to evaluate the driver’s performance more fairly.
With both shafts, smash factor was impressive – and consistent. Modern drivers often produce 1.5 smash factors in data sets, but the DARKSPEED X driver was doing this nearly every swing. Cobra accomplishes this energy conversion with a combination of improved, A.I. assisted face design, and a repositioned PWR-BRIDGE. The suspended PWR-BRIDGE (think inverted truss) is now located inside the head at the leading edge.
That same combination of technologies was also designed to produce low spin – and delivered such per my testing. To keep the spin low while boosting forgiveness, Cobra utilized dual weights in the sole. One weight in the rear of the sole for stability and launch, and a second closer to the face for spin control. Shaping and weighting of the DARKSPEED X driver offer a neutral shot shape.
Although my swing speed was down from a punishing two days of driving to and walking the floor of the PGA Show in Orlando [check out our recap HERE], I was impressed with the playability of the Cobra DARKSPEED X driver. My gamer shaft improved my speed and launch angle and tightened up the dispersion. I wasn’t able to confirm that this is the “the fastest driver” Cobra has ever built, but I have no reason to doubt the claim.
The Cobra DARKSPEED X driver lived up to its billing, delivering consistently strong ball speeds. And, I have to say, the DARKSPEED X driver may be the best looking and sounding Cobra driver I’ve ever hit. My issue with the stock shaft was merely a pre-launch availability circumstance, and you can discover more about the variety of shaft options on our chart below. If you’re pondering a new driver in 2024, make sure to add the DARKSPEED X to your short list.