"Smooth" shifters derive this smoothness from the insulating and isolating rubber in the shifter. Therefore the aftermarket shifters will not be smoother or less "mechanical" in feel than stock.

The longer shifter throws make the shift effort lighter through greater leverage.

In the XR4Ti - T9 case, the rubber and isolation, while making it smoother, also makes it vague and loose. It is lighter due to the long throws.

The T-5 is inherently a higher-effort transmission. They have more of that "mechanical", feel of metal sliding on metal when shifting. The aftermarket shifters will not change that. It is more precise however. There is less guessing as to which gear has been selected. Aftermarket shifters enhance this effect, at the potential cost of greater effort and even less shock and vibration isolation.

Aftermarket shifters have additional features to reduce the chance of missed shifts and subsequent damage. So, a serious enthusiast or racer would undoubtedly prefer such a design, and my impression is, the people who love the feel of the aftermarket shifters fall in this category. I, also, prefer precision to vague smoothness, but would give up some of the other aftermarket attributes (short throw) in exchange for smoothness.

Why, say, a BMW would be smoother yet equally precise probably has more to do with transmission design than the shifter itself.