After extensive research I took the plunge and bought a complete set of winter tyres and steel wheels for my 2014 Civic 5dr 1.8 SE+. I couldn't find a huge amount of information online specific to the European Civic (plenty for the US version) so I've set out everything I've done/found out in the hope someone might find it useful.
The car was supplied with 225/45/r17 tyres which I have always felt were a bit big to be the ideal setup (though they look good). Narrower tyres with deeper side walls are better in snow too, so I downsized to 205/55/r16 on new steel rims. This also brought the cost of the tyres down a little and there is a huge choice available in this size.
Speed and Load Rating
Speed rating proved a tricky issue. When you check the manual, my car can have 15, 16 or 17 inch wheels, each with different speed ratings. This seems bizarre as the performance of the car is the same. It seems to be widely accepted however that winter tyres have a lower speed rating than summer tyres.
So I contacted my insurer, Churchill, and had an online chat with one of their advisers (I highly recommend this as you have the option of emailing yourself a transcript of the conversation to keep on file). They said I had to meet the DVLA requirements and be legal and safe. So I trawled through Google, read the MOT requirements and established that I must have tyres fit for the purpose I use them for. So I chose rating 91H, matching the load rating of the original tyres and limited to 130mph. Given I have no intention of going anywhere near that speed, I consider these to be fit for purpose.
I chose Dunlop WinterSport 5 tyres - they came out well in the 2015 Autoexpress tyre test and had good ratings for economy, performance and noise - the latter being significantly lower than many other winter tyres. I only fitted the tyres yesterday so I'll post updates on what they are like to live with over the winter.
With the cost of the wheel/tyre package, I couldn't justify the extra for alloys, so chose steel wheels. The tyre/wheel supplier said I had to establish if my vehicle manufacturer would permit steel wheels to be fitted to the car. The 8G Civic has steel wheels on base models, but the 9G doesn't, so I emailed Honda Customer Services twice over a couple of weeks and got no reply (and still nothing over a month later). I then called and was told to speak with my dealer. So I called my dealer, spoke to the parts manager and though he didn't have a clear answer, he couldn't see a reason why I shouldn't fit steel wheels. The only issue I see is brake cooling but this isn't going to be a problem in winter in normal driving.
I have included some photos below of them on the car. Not stylish, but tough and given the state of the roads probably quite sensible. I may however get some cheap wheel trims to keep some of the dirt off the hub centres. The Civic requires bolt pattern 5x114.30x64.00 with an offset of ET45. It is the offset that prevents 8G 16 inch wheels fitting the 9G otherwise I would have got some secondhand 8G wheels.
Honda use a spherical rather than a tapered seat for their wheel nuts. I only found this out after ordering the wheels, however the wheels were obviously specifically designed for the Honda wheel nut and have a curved seat to match the nuts. There were no issues during fitting, and we checked using grease before fitting that the nuts would sit properly on the wheels.
I ordered from mytyres.co.uk. They are actually a German firm albeit with a UK outlet. The wheels and tyres were though shipped from Germany (only found this out via DPD tracking) and it took 2.5 weeks from ordering to delivery. This was a lot longer than I had hoped, though I did get two emails advising me of progress. The flip side is the price, £404 mounted, balanced and delivered - far cheaper than anywhere else.
My insurer, Churchill, said I needed to tell them when I made the swap. I called them last night and they are sending out revised paperwork. There is no charge for this change to the policy. The ABI (Association of British Insurers) produce a document listing how each insurer treats winter tyres (Google 'ABI winter tyres') and whether you need to contact your insurer. Oddly, it says I don't need to contact Churchill, despite them saying otherwise, so best to play safe and call your insurer.
Fitted them on the driveway easily enough, though having a mechanic for a housemate helps. However, after fitting and removing the dust caps to check the pressure I found one of the valves was leaking air. Fortunately the tyres were supplied over inflated so I was able to refit the dust cap and get to a local garage this morning where they replaced the valve for free. I will check each valve carefully before fitting next time.
So far I've only driven into town and back, but the steering is noticeably lighter which I like and the road noise is significantly lower which I really like. The car has lost some of its sharpness on turn in though and if you wiggle the steering wheel you can feel the tyres flexing which is a bit odd at first. Unfortunately the temperature is currently 10 degrees so I have no idea how they will perform if we get some proper winter weather, but I'll post an update in due course.
I've not noticed much change in the ride. The new wheels/tyres are lighter than the OEM supplied combo and with the deeper side wall and softer rubber I was hoping for more of an improvement. The ride is still not damped properly and crashes a bit on sharp dips etc. The car does though seem a bit keener off the line and less inclined to bog down. This may be purely coincidence, but the lighter wheels may have helped.
This has become more of an essay than intended, but I hope someone finds it helpful.